Members of the House of Lords completed third reading of the Defamation Bill, the final chance to amend the bill, yesterday (Monday 25 February).
Lord Fowler (Conservative) opened the debate by proposing an amendment to Clause 2. He explained the overall purpose of the clause: '... which is to provide a low-cost remedy for the public and the press without the expense of going to law.' The amendment sought to amend Lord Puttnam's (Labour) amendment made in report stage.
He continued: 'My major point is that the two lines at the end of Clause 2 are not necessary and, above all, give an entirely wrong impression to the public of what the clause is trying to do and of the beneficial impact and effect that it could have.'
Lord McNally (Liberal Democrat) responded on behalf of the government and explained: 'The amendment of my noble friend Lord Fowler is welcome in so far as it will remove an element of the Puttnam amendment that went further than Lord Justice Leveson recommended.' Following the response the amendment was agreed.
The Defamation Bill has completed its passage through the House of Lords and will be returned to the Commons with amendments for consideration.
More about the Defamation Bill
The bill was introduced in the Lords at first reading on 8 October, having completed its stages in the House of Commons.
The Defamation Bill aims 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. It looks to make a number of substantive changes to the law, but is not designed to be the single law on defamation.
The bill proposes to introduce a requirement for claimants to show that they have suffered serious harm before suing for defamation and a defence of 'responsible publication on matters of public interest'. It will also consider new statutory defences of truth and honest opinion to replace the common law defences of justification and fair comment.
Previous stages of the Defamation Bill
What is consideration of amendments/ping pong?
Once the bill has completed its passage through the second chamber the bill will return to the Commons where they will consider the amendments made. Both Houses need to agree to the exact wording of the bill and the bill may 'ping pong' between both houses until this happens.
When the exact wording of the bill has been agreed by both Houses the bill is ready for royal assent. Once a bill receives royal assent it becomes an Act of Parliament (proposals in the bill become law).