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Thus, the English law of defamation imposes no unnecessary or illegitimate restriction on freedom of expression within article 10. The mere existence of a legal rule can violate a Convention right or freedom if it has a chilling effect upon the practical enjoyment of that right or freedom: Dudgeon v United Kingdom (1981) 4 E. A critic of government conduct ought not to have to guarantee the truth of all his factual assertions endangering the esteem in which government is held on pain of a successful suit for libel. v Commission of the European Communities (Case 46/87R) [1987] E. Paragraph 9 states:"By reason of the words published on 17 September 1989 and the words and graph published on 24 September 1989 the plaintiff council has been injured in its credit and reputation and has been brought into public scandal, odium and contempt, and has suffered loss and damage."No special damage is pleaded.

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A non-malicious publication may cause just as much damage as a malicious one. Such bodies would be able to wield the very sharp sword of libel proceedings to deter or suppress public criticism and information about what they do as the people's representatives and public servants. 254 and Die Spoorbond v South African Railways, 1946 A. The fundamental human right to free expression is an essential feature of citizenship and of representative democracy. The first is Manchester Corporation v Williams [1891] 1 QB 94, 63 LT 805.

If a local authority has a right to sue for libel at common law, only Parliament, not the courts, can take away that right: see Dennis v United States of America (1951) 341 U. They could do so using public funds and knowing that an ordinary individual citizen could not afford access to justice to defend his freedom of political expression against such a claim. The plaintiffs seek to extend the tort of libel well beyond the ambit of the criminal offence of seditious libel, which is designed to protect the government and the public against scurrilous and extreme attacks upon the Crown or government institutions: see Reg v Chief Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate, Ex parte Choudhury [1991] 1 QB 529. It is a basic principle of the unwritten British Constitution, protected by the common law. The defendant had written a letter to a newspaper alleging that "in the case of two, if not three, departments of our Manchester City Council, bribery and corruption have existed, and done their nefarious work." A Divisional Court consisting of Day J and Lawrance J held that the statement of claim disclosed no cause of action.

The article should not be applied in the abstract to conclude that a local authority's right to bring a libel action will inevitably and in all circumstances infringe the article. Damages awarded to corporate plaintiffs are not large. There is a similar requirement where the restriction upon free expression is imposed by the common law itself: Attorney-General v Guardian Newspapers Ltd [1987] and Attorney-General v Guardian Newspapers Ltd (No. Furthermore, the courts will, unless constrained by binding authority, declare the common law so as to be in harmony with the right to freedom of expression recognised and guaranteed by article 10 of the Convention and with the principle that only necessary interferences with freedom of expression are acceptable. 149 and Times Newspapers Ltd v United Kingdom (Application No. [Reference was also made to Castells v Spain, 14 E. These principles are of particular importance so far as the press is concerned as public watchdog. The statements of claims in this action by the plaintiff and in that by Mr Bookbinder are for all practical purposes in identical terms.

The correct approach should be to consider whether in the context of the particular case, the relevant domestic law is unnecessarily restrictive: see Castells v Spain (1992) 14 E. A local authority has no feelings to be hurt by a libel: see Fielding v Variety Incorporated [1967] 2 QB 841. The Convention, though not part of domestic law, enshrines the common law. The limits of permissible criticism are wider with regard to the government. 1549; Sixteen Austrian Communes v Austria (1974) 46 Eur. That of the plaintiff asserts in paragraph 6 that there were written and published "of and concerning the council and of and concerning the council in the way of its discharge of its responsibility for the investment and control of the superannuation fund" the words contained in the article of 17 September, and paragraph 8 makes a similar assertion in relation to the article of 24 September.

Nor could it sue in respect of a charge of corruption, for a corporation cannot be guilty of corruption, although the individuals composing it may.

But it would be very odd if a corporation had no means of protecting itself against wrong; and if its property is injured by slander it has no means of redress except by action.

A corporation may sue for a libel affecting property, not for one merely affecting personal reputation.

This does not fall within the class of cases in respect of which a corporation can maintain an action, but does fall within the second class commented on by Pollock CB in his judgement in the case of the Metropolitan Saloon Omnibus Co Ltd v Hawkins, 4 H & N 87, with which I fully agree...

The Court of the Exchequer held the action to be maintainable.

Pollock CB, in the passage referred to by Day J, said, at p90:"That a corporation at common law can sue in respect of a libel there is no doubt.

The facts are stated in the opinion of Lord Keith of Kinkel. So, too, can trade unions: Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunication and Plumbing Union v Times Newspapers Ltd [1980] QB 585. There is no reason in logic or principle to distinguish the plaintiff from these bodies. The rationale for permitting persons other than individuals to sue for libel thus applies with equal force to local authorities. Balcombe LJ, giving the leading judgement in the Court of Appeal, summarised the facts thus [1992] QB 770, 802:"The facts in the case are fortunately refreshingly simple.

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