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Scotland Act 1998

SCHEDULE 8, Paragraph 33: Defamation Act 1996

Purpose and Effect

This paragraph makes amendments to the Defamation Act 1996 which are consequential upon the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Executive to ensure that relevant provisions made by or under Acts of the Scottish Parliament and appointments made by members of the Scottish Executive are covered by the 1996 Act in the same way that equivalent provisions made by or under UK Acts or appointments by UK Ministers are covered.

General

The Defamation Act 1996 makes provision amending the law of defamation in each part of the United Kingdom.  In particular sections 14 and 15 make provision as to the circumstances in which certain reports will enjoy absolute privilege and qualified privilege.  These amendments ensure that the Act will apply taking account of provisions that may be made by or under Acts of the Scottish Parliament and appointments made by the Scottish Executive.  It complements section 41 (Defamatory statements), paragraph 10 of Schedule 8 (Defamation Act 1952) and paragraph 11 of Schedule 8 (Defamation Act (Northern Ireland) 1955).

Details of Provisions

Paragraph 33(2) amends the definition in the 1996 Act of “statutory provision” for the purposes of the Act so that it includes provisions contained in an Act of the Scottish Parliament or in a Statutory Instrument made under any such Act.  There are references in the 1996 Act to “statutory provision” in section 14(2) of the Act (reports of court proceedings absolutely privileged) and in paragraphs 11(c) to (e) and 13(2)(c) and (4)(b) of Schedule 1 which deal with statements which have qualified privileged under the Act subject to explanation or contradiction.

Paragraph 33(3) amends paragraph 11(1)(c) of Schedule 1 to the 1996 Act, which provides qualified privilege for certain reports of proceedings of a commission, tribunal, committee or person appointed for the purpose of any inquiry by Her Majesty or by a Minister of the Crown or a Northern Ireland Department, so that it also applies in relation to any such commission etc. appointed by a member of the Scottish Executive.

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