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Title: The regulation of defamation in tort and criminal law : a comparative study of England and France
Author: Groppo, Mathilde Alfrida
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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Defamation is a complex topic, historically lying at the crossroads of tort and criminal law. In the current state of the law, various common law jurisdictions (including England) have abolished criminal defamation. By contrast, civil law jurisdictions approach defamation first and foremost as a criminal offence, although in many countries (including France), the claimant’s right is also civilly actionable. From a comparative perspective, this distinction supports a generally held view that the national particularisms of defamation laws reflect very different approaches to the protection of reputation. This thesis considers and challenges this view by critically examining the extent to which the nature of the regulation, tortious or criminal, influences the substantive content of the rules on defamation in England and France. It argues that the current regulatory features are the result of a haphazard historical development, rather than of a conscious choice. Thus, the distinction between tortious and criminal liability in England and France does not necessarily epitomise fundamentally irreconcilable conceptions of reputation. This suggests that the English and the French laws of defamation are comparable despite their different regulatory features. This is confirmed by studying key features of the law of defamation: standards of liability, the defence of truth and remedial aspects of the wrong. At first sight, their apparent differences seem to be justifiable on the basis of each system’s disparate regulatory features. Upon closer analysis of each of these features however, elements of commonality emerge. The English and French rules on fault are comparable and are underlined by a shared concern to promote media accountability, their treatment of truth is becoming analogous, and the remedial aspects of defamation are functionally comparable. The thesis concludes that despite substantive differences owing to the regulatory features of each system, England and France adopt a shared conceptual approach to the wrong of defamation.
Supervisor: Aplin, Tanya Frances ; Steel, Alexander Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available