Multiple Publication and Online Defamation – Recent Reforms in Ireland and the United Kingdom


The multiple-publication rule, allowing for a new cause of action each time a defamatory statement is published, has applied to non-internet publications for well over a century. Its application to online publications however, has raised particular difficulties. Despite the rule finding judicial favour in most common-law jurisdictions (the US being a noted exception) the legislature in Ireland has recently abandoned it and plans are in place in the United Kingdom to do likewise. On the other hand Australian and Canadian courts have rejected arguments to abandon the rule. This article discusses both the legal and policy related reasoning behind the recent legislative developments in Ireland and the United Kingdom and considers whether these jurisdictions have tipped the balance too far in favour of publishers on the internet.