36 Va. J. Int'l L. 933 (1995-1996)
Anglicizing Defamation Law in the European Union

handle is hein.journals/vajint36 and id is 945 raw text is: Anglicizing Defamation Law in the
European Union
A society's defamation laws reflect the relative weight that soci-
ety assigns to certain fundamental but conflicting values.' On the
one hand, these laws represent a commitment to protect the dignity
of the individual against insult and scurrilous attacks. They provide
a peaceful means for individuals to obtain vindication and compen-
sation for reputational harms and attendant pecuniary losses and
emotional distress. Moreover, they can be a mechanism for pun-
ishing and deterring reckless news reporting. On the other hand,
overprotective defamation laws can deter legitimate investigative
journalism, inhibit free discussion, and discourage criticism of gov-
ernmental policy and policymakers. If the media are given little
leeway for honest error, or are paralyzed by the fear that anything
reported could result in costly and complex litigation, they can fall
victim to timidity and self-censorship, jeopardizing the right of the
citizenry to be informed of matters of public interest.
Member states of the European Union have devised different
approaches to balancing these competing interests, each anchored
in their distinctive histories and traditions. Because different states
order their legal and constitutional structures to achieve disparate
goals, the application of one country's defamation laws to publish-
ers located in another may undermine the policies of the pub-
* Lecturer in Business Law, University of Stirling, Scotland, and Visiting Fellow, Stirling
Media Research Institute.
** Lecturer in Business Law, Heriot-Watt University, Scotland.
1. See Frederick Schauer, Social Foundations of the Law of Defamation: A Comparative
Analysis, 1 J. Media L. & Prac. 3, 3-4 (1980).

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