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Close scrutiny of possible threats to fundamental freedoms is called for: Reg. The press is not above the law or entitled to some special privilege or immunity not enjoyed by the individual citizen: it has no greater or fewer rights than does the citizen for whom it is the surrogate. (4th) 577 and Retail, Wholesale Department Store Union, Local 850 v Dolphin Delivery Ltd (1986) 33 D. A corporation may sue for a libel affecting property, not for one merely affecting personal reputation. There must, therefore, be judgement for the defendant."Lawrance J said that he was of the same opinion.In the Bognor Regis case  2 QB 169 no attempt was made to weigh the public interest in freedom of expression against the public interest in the protection of reputation. (3d) 755 it is uncertain whether that case remains good law in Canada in the light of the constitutional guarantee of free speech in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: see Edmonton Journal v Attorney-General for Alberta (1989) 64 D. The Law Times report contains a somewhat longer judgement of Day J in these terms, 63 LT 805, 806-807:"This action is brought by the mayor, aldermen, and citizens of the city of Manchester to recover damages from the defendant in respect of that which is alleged by them to be a libel on the corporation.This offence is virtually extinct and is anomalous and difficult to reconcile with article 10: see Reg. There is no justification for treating a local authority's governing reputation as analogous to a private company's or trade union's business reputation, and there is no legitimate public interest in restricting or interfering with freedom of speech to protect that governing reputation. Placing the burden of proving justification upon the defendant does not mean that only false allegations would be deterred. The preliminary point of law was tried at first instance before Morland J  QB 770 who on 15 March 1991 decided it in favour of the plaintiff.v Wells Street Stipendiary Magistrate, Ex parte Deakin  AC 477. For the courts to allow an elected public authority to sue for libel would be to authorise unnecessary interference by the common law with freedom of expression in a democratic society. In addition, would-be critics of government conduct will be deterred from voicing criticism even though what they published was reasonably believed to be true and was in fact true, because of doubt of whether it could be proved to the satisfaction of a court of law, or because of fear of the expense of having to do so: see City of Chicago v Tribune Co, 139 N. 86, approved in New York Times Co v Sullivan, 376 U. However, on appeal by the defendants his judgement was reversed by the Court of Appeal (Balcombe, Ralph Gibson and Butler- Sloss LJJ)  QB 770, on 19 February 1992.Thus, the English law of defamation imposes no unnecessary or illegitimate restriction on freedom of expression within article 10. The mere existence of a legal rule can violate a Convention right or freedom if it has a chilling effect upon the practical enjoyment of that right or freedom: Dudgeon v United Kingdom (1981) 4 E. A critic of government conduct ought not to have to guarantee the truth of all his factual assertions endangering the esteem in which government is held on pain of a successful suit for libel. v Commission of the European Communities (Case 46/87R)  E. Paragraph 9 states:"By reason of the words published on 17 September 1989 and the words and graph published on 24 September 1989 the plaintiff council has been injured in its credit and reputation and has been brought into public scandal, odium and contempt, and has suffered loss and damage."No special damage is pleaded.A local authority should not be deprived of the right to bring an action for libel because of the possibility of its being able to prosecute for criminal libel. The plaintiffs are not a trading corporation or some other private body: they are a governmental body performing public duties and exercising public powers not possessed by individual citizens or private bodies. This would deter newspapers and individual citizens from offending governmental bodies and would lead to self-censoring and public ignorance about the workings of government. On 31 July 1991 French J refused an application by the plaintiff to amend the statement of claim so as to plead a certain specific item of special damage.A non-malicious publication may cause just as much damage as a malicious one. Such bodies would be able to wield the very sharp sword of libel proceedings to deter or suppress public criticism and information about what they do as the people's representatives and public servants. 254 and Die Spoorbond v South African Railways, 1946 A. The fundamental human right to free expression is an essential feature of citizenship and of representative democracy. The first is Manchester Corporation v Williams  1 QB 94, 63 LT 805.
On appeal by the plaintiff:-Held, dismissing the appeal, that since it was of the highest public importance that a democratically elected governmental body should be open to uninhibited public criticism, and since the threat of civil actions for defamation would place an undesirable fetter on the freedom to express such criticism, it would be contrary to the public interest for institutions of central or local government to have any right at common law to maintain an action for damages for defamation; and that, accordingly, the plaintiff was not entitled to bring an action for libel against the defendants, and its statement of claim would be struck out (post, pp. Manchester Corporation v Williams  1 QB 94, D. Decision of the Court of Appeal  QB 770;  3 WLR 28;  3 All ER 65 affirmed on different grounds. This was an appeal, by leave of the Court of Appeal, by the plaintiff, Derbyshire County Council, from the decision of the Court of Appeal (Balcombe, Ralph Gibson and Butler-Sloss L. On the contrary, section 222 of the Local Government Act 1972 confers a wide power on local authorities to institute civil proceedings of all types. It is open to question, however, whether qualified privilege attaches to the publication of fair information on a matter of public interest concerning the manner in which a public officer performs public functions: see Webb v Times Publishing Co Ltd  2 QB 535 and Blackshaw v Lord  QB 1, in which the Court of Appeal took too narrow a view of the scope of privilege in such circumstances. A civil court can grant prior restraint of publication, and damages are potentially without limit. Their Lordships took time for consideration.18 February 1993.
A corporation may sue for a libel affecting property, not for one merely affecting personal reputation.
This does not fall within the class of cases in respect of which a corporation can maintain an action, but does fall within the second class commented on by Pollock CB in his judgement in the case of the Metropolitan Saloon Omnibus Co Ltd v Hawkins, 4 H & N 87, with which I fully agree...
Derbyshire County Council v Times Newspapers Ltd and Others AC 534,  1 All ER 1011,  2 WLR 449, 91 LGR 179 House of Lords Lord Keith of Kinkel, Lord Griffiths, Lord Goff of Chieveley, Lord Browne-Wilkinson and Lord Woolf Defamation - Parties - Corporation - Publication relating to administration of local authority's superannuation fund - Publication insinuating maladministration of pension funds - Balance between public interest in freedom of speech and protection of authority's reputation - Whether local authority entitled to maintain action in defamation The plaintiff, a local authority, brought an action for damages for libel against the defendants in respect of two newspaper articles which had questioned the propriety of investments made for its superannuation fund. 71; Die Spoorbond v South African Railways, 1946 A. 999 and Argus Printing and Publishing Co Ltd v Inkatha Freedom Party, 1992 (3) S. 579.] The Court of Appeal erred in holding that Manchester Corporation v Williams  1 QB 94; 63 L. 805 conflicts with the Bognor decision and casts doubt on the general principle that a local authority is entitled to sue for libel.  2 AC 306.]Even if a governmental body is entitled to sue for libel, a constitutional privilege should attach to a publication imputing maladministration to such a body.
On a preliminary issue as to whether the plaintiff had a cause of action against the defendants, the judge held that a local authority could sue for libel in respect of its governmental and administrative functions, and dismissed the defendants' application to strike out the statement of claim. That case only decided that a local authority could not sue for libel in respect of an imputation of bribery and corruption. The categories of publications which enjoy privilege at common law are not closed: London Association for Protection of Trade v Greenlands Ltd  2 AC 15. Unlike a criminal prosecution, in a civil action the plaintiff does not need to show a prima facie case as a pre-condition to going for trial. If there is a need for greater protection to be given to freedom of expression, the manner of achieving that ought not to be an arbitrary removal from certain plaintiffs of their rights, but should be by extension of existing common law defences.
Nor could it sue in respect of a charge of corruption, for a corporation cannot be guilty of corruption, although the individuals composing it may.