IPSO consults on arbitration scheme

Consultation open until 7 September 2015

Press regulator IPSO has issued a consultation paper investigating the potential for the use of an arbitration scheme for civil legal claims against the newspaper and magazine industry.

The proposed scheme would deal with complaints in defamation, privacy and harassment. It would not deal with claims under the Data Protection Act 1998, commercial or criminal matters. The consultation paper also states that claims which give rise to a novel or complex point of law where it may be in the public interest or interests of the parties to have a determination by a court will not be deemed suitable. There would be a strike out procedure for claims which were wholly without merit, frivolous or vexatious or an abuse of process.

An arbitration scheme for claims against the press was recommended in the Leveson Report. The consultation paper declares the aim to be provision of “a cheaper and faster process for resolving civil law disputes against the press, thereby decreasing barriers which currently limit access to justice.”

The consultation paper sets out a number of proposals as to how an arbitration scheme could work. Under some of the proposals arbitration would be mandatory for those press organisations signed up to IPSO, under others it would be voluntary. Under none of the schemes would arbitration be mandatory for claimants.

IPSO seek views on:

  • which model of arbitration may work best – i.e. should the scheme be mandatory for IPSO press members and if so in what form. And in what circumstances should IPSO members be permitted to opt out of the process
  • whether the suitability criteria are appropriate in scope and strength
  • the extent to which and manner in which pre-arbitration information and advice could and should be provided
  • suitable timescales for arbitration
  • whether there should be a cap on the level of award available
  • whether and how legal costs should be recovered
  • whether conciliation should be part of the process
  • whether there are any alternative processes which might be utilised or better utilised to resolve such complaints

The consultation paper is available on the IPSO website. Responses are invited by 5pm on 7 September 2015.