Review of Defamation Policy

Closed 26 Jan 2024

Opened 13 Nov 2023


The Defamation Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 received Royal Assent on 6 June 2022. The principal changes arising from the Act are:

  • The removal of the presumption in favour of trial by jury in defamation cases.
  • The replacement of the three common law defences (justification, fair comment and the ‘Reynolds defence’) with equivalent statutory defences (truth, honest opinion and publication in the public interest).

The Department of Finance (DOF) has policy responsibility for the law on defamation. Section 11 of the 2022 Act commits the Department to review defamation law in this jurisdiction and elsewhere and report its findings and any policy recommendations to the Northern Ireland Assembly by June 2024 (i.e. two years after Royal Assent).  

In order to inform this review, we wish to engage, in a targeted manner, with local stakeholders to obtain their opinion on the operation of the 2022 Act and on other areas relevant to defamation where further policy review may be required. In the survey that follows are questions regarding the following areas:

  • The Operation of the Defamation Act (Northern Ireland) 2022
  • Online Defamation
  • Libel Tourism
  • Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs)
  • Access to justice
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

This list, while inclusive of what we believe are the main issues in defamation law, is not intended to be exhaustive or prescriptive. In the survey, you will have an opportunity to offer an opinion on aspects of defamation law other than those we have listed.


Why your views matter

Your opinions regarding the operation of The Defamation Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 are important. They will help us identify where change might be needed and help shape future policy and legislation in this area. While the Department is conscious that little more than a year has elapsed since the Act came into force and that it therefore may be difficult to assess how it has impacted on existing law and practice, any insights that can be offered on this aspect are nonetheless welcome.

Your thoughts and suggestions on the future of defamation law in this jurisdiction are also valuable to us and we look forward to seeing them.


What happens next

Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and will inform the Department’s review. The Department will, as required under Section 11 of the 2022 Act, present a report of its review to the Northern Ireland Assembly by June 2024. Publication of the report will follow.   

All personal data will be handled in accordance with UK data protection legislation.


  • All stakeholders


  • Engagement