…and while I’m on the ‘tort law’ topic

What’s the point of injunctions in cases of breach of civil law?

If someone breaks the criminal law, they should be punished. That’s why we have criminal courts.

But if someone’s planning to do something which might, if they do it, be against civil law, what on earth is the justification for turning *that* into a criminal, enforceable offence?

Concretely: if I call Robert Maxwell a fat, thieving, lying crook, then it’s fair enough that he should be allowed his day in court where I have to prove that he is a fat, thieving, lying crook [*].

But how in hell is it fair, just or rational that if Robert Maxwell hears that I’m planning on calling him a fat, thieving, lying crook, that he’s allowed to find a judge who’ll ban me from doing so on pain of criminal penalties?

[*] yes, again with the libel law reform. No, I don’t think that I *actually* ought to have to prove that, I think he should either prove the opposite in court or persuade interested parties that I’m not worth listening to: but I’m willing to concede all kinds of vile concessions against free speech for the purpose of debate.

7 thoughts on “…and while I’m on the ‘tort law’ topic

  1. [I got a spam comment on this saying "damn right, it's totally unfair", promoting an online dating agency, within 5 minutes of posting. WTF? – it didn't even contain #trafigura or #carterruck as key words!]

  2. Typo:

    …where I have to prove that he [is] a fat, thieving, lying crook…

    Unless you're planning on libelling him with the gross untruth that he's a thin, honest, businessman (in which case I trust you'd get taken to the cleaners).

  3. I like the concept of defendants in libel cases being forced to prove that their claim is false in order to win the case, but I've made the correction anyway…

  4. I don't like posting "wow, you're right" comments, but I think you're right here, wow. IANAL, in case you couldn't tell. Even Gordon Brown has taken to tutting at 'super-injunctions'. Perhaps because IANAL, I can't see the difference between super-injunctions and the normal kind. I suspect that's a bogus distinction, but I can't tell from the Guardian piece if 'super-injunction' was Peter Bottomley's term or the papers. It sounds like a faux attempt to be reasonable: "we have nothing whatever against common or garden injunctions, they may go about their lawful business as before, but these new super-injunctions must be stopped." Of course, the problem seems to be with the courts accepting these requests, which seem to me to be a demonstration of chutzpah on the part of the lawyers.

  5. Erm, Rob M used here as example of unequivocal fat-lying-crook who, due to being dead, can't sue me for using him as example of unequivocal fat-lying-crook. It's unlikely that Premiership football team proprietors or would-be-proprietors would sue me if I used them as examples, but not impossible.

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