Section 40 of the 2013 Crime and Courts Act promises to introduce a punitive costs regime to all cases involving news publishers in the courts in England and Wales.
It means that any publisher sued for anything related to news will have to pay both sides’ legal costs even if they win, just for refusing to join a government-backed press regulator. It also means that claimants who sue a title which is part of the officially-sanctioned regulator will not have their costs met even if they win.
SNS members have refused to join the government-supported regulator because it ultimately hands control of press regulation to both the Westminster and Holyrood politicians, the very bodies the Press is supposed to hold to account.
It will affect Scottish news titles because with online publication is will be possible for complainants to have their cases heard in England so they can take advantage of the new system. It could cost a Scottish title around £50,000 just to argue that a case should either be thrown out or be heard in Scotland.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport is currently running a consultation about the introduction of Section 40, and the re-starting of the Leveson Inquiry, and you can help prevent both by filling in the form which can be found here. The consultation closes on January 10.
SNS Director John McLellan said: “It’s vital that everyone who supports a truly free press participates in the consultation to make sure Culture Secretary Karen Bradley understands the scale of opposition.”