First published on the Brett Wilson Media Law Blog on 26 August 2016
In July the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) announced that it was starting a year-long arbitration pilot scheme for resolving disputes against the press. The scheme officially started on 26 July 2016 and will be run by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR).
Organisations that have signed up voluntarily to the scheme include The Daily Mirror, the Daily Express, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Daily Mail, The Sun, the Press Association, Conde Nast UK magazines and The Liverpool Echo. The success of the scheme will be reviewed in 12 months’ time.
Claims for defamation, privacy and harassment can be brought under the scheme. In applicable cases both parties would agree to a binding arbitration decision being made by a specialist barrister chosen by the CEDR.
The scheme provides a potentially cost effective alternative to court proceedings for claimants in disputes against the press. If the case is resolved at a preliminary stage then the costs of the scheme to the claimant will be £300 plus VAT. If the claim proceeds to a final ruling then there would be a further cost of £2,500 plus VAT. The Defendant also has to pay a fee. This is in addition to any legal costs incurred by the claimant (some of which may be recoverable), however it is unlikely that claimants will be required to pay the publisher’s fees or costs even if the case is dismissed (exceptions include claims that are struck out or claims that are brought wholly without merit, or are trivial, frivolous or vexatious).
In a final ruling the arbitrator can generally grant the same relief as a court, for example require the publisher to pay damages (up to £50,000), require the publisher not to re-publish the relevant information or remove the relevant information from its website.
Generally speaking arbitrations will be dealt with on paper, i.e. without an oral hearing. Once the arbitrator has made a decision it is binding and final, with limited grounds of appeal.