Mr Justice Eady on internet defamation: time for international consensus

In a speech delivered at the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism in London last week, Sir David Eadycalled for an end to nationalised approaches to litigation arising from internet communications:

What is plainly required is an international agreement to govern communications on the web and, in particular, to determine whether they are to be regulated by an agreed set of supra-national regulations or, if not, to provide a generally acceptable means of deciding which domestic law should apply to any offending publication. But clashes of law are undesirable and will only come increasingly to sour international relations. I would characterise this as essentially an international problem deriving from technical advances. It is obviously not a specifically English or UK issue.

The full speech (bizarrely entitled ‘Strasbourg and Sexual Shenanigans: A Search for Clarity’) is well worth reading. It provides an engaging and erudite overview of the history of media regulation in the United Kingdom, and gives a nuanced account of some of the issues facing courts and legislatures when setting the balance between the rights to freedom of expression and private life.