Freedom of Expression and Defamation

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Tarlach McGonagleFreedom of expression is a fundamental freedom, one of the cornerstones of democracy in Europe, enshrined in various key texts, including the European Convention on Human Rights. But the boundaries between freedom to criticise and damaging a person’s honour or reputation are not always very clear. By defining public insults and defamation, the law can set limits on freedom of expression, which is neither absolute nor boundless. But how far can it go?

This study examines the details of the European Court of Human Right’s case law on defamation. It explores a range of substantive and procedural issues that the Court has considered, and clarifies the concept of defamation, positioning it in relation to freedom of expression and public debate. It explains how overly protective defamation laws can have a chilling effect on freedom of expression and public debate, and discusses the proportionality of defamation laws and their application (publisher’s presentation).

* Tarlach McGonagle, Freedom of Expression and Defamation – A study of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, Council of Europe Publ., 2016 (aussi disponible en français).