The libel laws of England and Wales are notorious. Libel cases cost little to bring — you can make a no-win-no-fee arrangement with your lawyer — but a lot to defend. According to a recent report, the average cost of defending a libel case in England and Wales is 140 times greater than it is in most of the rest of Europe.
Moreover, English libel law favors the claimant — the person who says he or she has been defamed — in several ways. For one, the range of defenses is more limited than in other jurisdictions. For another, in English libel cases, the burden of proof is effectively on the defendant. In other words, the defamatory statement is presumed to be false unless the defendant can prove it is true.
[…] The problem the libel laws create is not so much that critical stories can’t be written, but that they won’t be. As the conversations I had this summer show, for many journalists and their employers the potential for a libel case is a powerful deterrent to criticism: the pieces aren’t worth the hassle.
Yup, if you long for our libel laws to be used to slap down a few of us meddlesome bloggers, that’s exactly the type of journalistic climate of fear you obviously hope to create. But unfortunately for you, here in the U.S., we have something called the First Amendment. So eat me.