Clause 1 - Serious harm
Jonathan Djanogly (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (HM Courts Service and Legal Aid), Justice; Huntingdon, Conservative)
The existing procedures will suffice, and an application for strike out would be made under rule 3.4 of the civil procedure rules.
The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme asked about procedural issues and whether there is a need for new mechanisms to resolve defamation cases cheaply and quickly. As I set out clearly on Second Reading, the answer is yes. The Government recognise that we must get that important issue right. Alongside the Bill, we intend to introduce proposals for a new procedure aimed at resolving key preliminary issues as early as possible to help to reduce the length and cost of defamation proceedings.
In addition, we will encourage the use of mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution in defamation cases, and support the strengthening of the defamation pre-action protocol, so that parties are more strongly encouraged to use mediation or early neutral evaluation, and so that those unreasonably refusing to do so are penalised if and when it comes to the awarding of costs. We will also give further consideration to how cases that reach the courts can be best dealt with.
Mr MacShane rose—
Paul Farrelly rose—