Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there was an
investigation into press behaviour. Lord Leveson heard from
witnesses, tale upon tale of poor press conduct, and ultimately
issued a plethora of sensible recommendations for press regulation
with a view to ensure that the watchdog and bloodhound of society
that is the press, could no longer savage the rights and
reputations of the public.
A Royal Charter on self-regulation of the press was set up to
establish an independent recognition panel, the Press Recognition
Panel, as the body to decide whether any press self-regulator meets
the recognition criteria recommended in the Leveson report of
independence and effectiveness. While to date, there has been no
recognised regulator in sight two champions have appeared. IPSO,
the Independent Press Standards Organisation, came riding to the
rescue of the press like a knight on a white charger, to be
applauded by vast swathes of the British press – in fact, all
the sizeable publishers save the Guardian, the FT and the
Independent. Others have sought a horse of a different colour to
back, in IMPRESS, which says that it is 'blazing a trail for a
fairer, better kind of press regulation'.
But while IMPRESS has sought recognition of the PRP, IPSO has
made clear that it does not intend so to do. Perhaps it is more
like the evil queen in Snow White, gaining its own deluded
recognition by gazing upon itself and liking what it sees. But
there is a problem for IPSO, which may have prompted the dalliance
with a pilot arbitration scheme. If no regulator can be found
worthy of recognition, the PRP may report back to Parliament that
Leveson is being ignored. The horror story for certain sections of
the press would be the potential imposition of regulation via an
existing tough regulator such as Ofcom. Alternatively, if its
challenger IMPRESS does become recognised, there's an even
starker difference between the party playing by the rules, and the
other who won't even submit their work for inspection.
Perhaps then, in an attempt to make itself more attractive, IPSO
is seeking to associate itself with the more respectable mantle of
CEDR, known for its mediation service, to run its new arbitration
scheme. Applicants who participate will be bound by its decisions,
and accordingly will be deprived of the right to litigate save in
exceptional circumstances. There are also costs, capped at
£2,800 to pay – is there a cap on damages though? The
scheme will deal with the tough legal issues of defamation,
privacy, data protection and harassment, rather than the more
nebulous concepts contained in the current code of practice
overseen by IPSO. But would a list of arbitrators be published to
A year down the line, we should be asking; 'Mirror, Sun and
Mail on the newsagent's wall, who is the fairest press
regulator of all?'. Will this scheme have made a difference? Or
will the public remain misinformed and misled, savaged and abused
by the worst excesses of the press, unrebuked by the
regulator's hand? My money would be on this not resulting in a
Amber's views were also quoted in this article by Matthew Field at Legal
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The English Commercial Court has published two recent judgments of Mr Justice Popplewell in a single anonymised case concerning the removal of two arbitrators under section 24(1)(d)(i) of the Arbitration Act 1996.
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