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IPSO Launches Consultation Process

The press regulator is seeking views on how to provide fast and effective redress for claimants.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation yesterday launched a three month consultation exercise, seeking views on the introduction of an arbitration scheme for civil legal disputes with the press, on issues such as defamation and privacy.

The consultation invites comments from any interested parties, including the general public, and will run until Monday 7th September. The document outlines options and proposals for a quick and cheap means of solving legal disputes, other than through litigation, whilst preventing vexatious and frivolous claims.

Key features of the potential scheme that IPSO seeks views on include:

* Whether the scheme should be mandatory for publishers that sign up to it (ie the publisher would not be able to choose on a case by case basis whether to go to arbitration)

* Suitable timescales for arbitrated claims

* Whether there should be a cap on the level of award the arbitrator can make

* Whether and how legal costs should be recovered

* Whether conciliation could be part of the process

* Whether the arbitration scheme should be tailored to different industry sectors

Following the consultation, if IPSO decides to continue with an arbitration scheme it will run a pilot scheme, following which it may seek the agreement of the industry for a wider scheme. Arbitration, if it were adopted by IPSO, would not replace its regulatory complaints handling process and would therefore keep regulatory duties separate from legal claims against the press.

Sir Alan Moses, Chairman of IPSO said: “Arbitration is not just about reducing costs and delays associated with litigation, it is about widening access to justice for members of the public and is something I feel very strongly about. At the core of IPSO’s work is that we will support complainants who feel wronged by the press and this consultation asks for views on how an arbitration scheme could be part of that provision. I look forward to receiving responses from the public as well as the industry and commentators.”