Clause 5. — (Justification.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Defamation (Amendment) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th June 1952.

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Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , City of York 12:00 am, 27th June 1952

I look at the matter in the way in which it usually arises, namely, when one is advising someone at an early stage whether he has a sound claim in respect of a matter, or the other way round, whether the writer has to pay. It is at that stage that this will arise. Frequently it would be very bold to advise a newspaper that the matter was covered by the naked de minimis principle. It would have to be so very trifling before one could feel safe about that.

I believe that this would improve the position because we would be able to decide as best we may, "Does this or does it not materially injure the plaintiff?" That which does not materially injure—I do not mind whether it is de minimis or not—is something in respect of which one does not want the plaintiff to be seeking damages at law. It does not secure any public advantage. I hope that is the right view because on that basis I wish to support the Clause.