Search Legislation

Defamation Act (Northern Ireland) 2022

Background and Policy Objectives

3.The aim of the Act is to reform the law of defamation to ensure that a fair balance is struck between the right to freedom of expression and the protection of reputation. The Act makes a number of substantive changes to the law of defamation, but is not designed to codify the law into a single statute.

4.Policy Objectives

  • Make it easier and less expensive to take legal action when you have been defamed;

  • Make it harder for the rich and influential to chill free speech;

  • Protect the rights of scientists and academics to engage in robust debate;

  • Protect the right of journalists to conduct responsible and necessary investigations;

  • Protect the work of Non-Governmental Organisations;

  • Remove the current presumption in favour of a jury trial;

  • Introduce a defence of “responsible publication on matters of public interest”;

  • Introduce new statutory defences of truth and honest opinion to replace the common law defences of justification and fair comment.

Back to top


Print Options


Explanatory Notes

Text created by the Northern Ireland Assembly department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes accompany all Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly.


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources