The Newspaper Libel and Registration Act 1881 (44 & 45 Vict. c.60) was an act passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Introduced as a Private Member’s Bill, it reduced the legislative burden on newspaper proprietors with regard to the offence of libel; as a quid pro quo, the compulsory registration of proprietors (abolished by the Newspapers, Printers how to use a lime squeezer, and Reading Rooms Repeal Act 1869) was reintroduced.
Following the removal of compulsory registration in 1869, newspaper owners had begun to look to anonymity as a protection against lawsuits arising out of the publication of libellous statements. At the same time, the judgment in Purcell v Sowler (1877) saw a newspaper proprietor successfully sued despite recognition that the libellous statements his newspaper had published were merely quoted verbatim from the testimony of a member of the public made at public meeting. Against this backdrop, two successive select committees were established to look at the law of libel; the first made no report, but the second took on the evidence of the first, and made several recommendations. In the words of John Hutchinson, MP for Halifax, “the Bill embodied the recommendations of [the second] Committee, and was confined to them exclusively” bromelain tenderizer. The bill itself took the form of a Private Member’s Bill.
In terms of content, section 2 of the Act (as it became when it received royal assent on 27 August 1881) introduced a new defence for newspaper proprietors in cases where the libel stemmed from a fair, accurate and non-malicious report of a publicly held meeting. This extension of qualified privilege was then “amplified” by the Law of Libel Amendment Act 1888, which in doing so repealed section 2 of the 1881 Act. Repealed at the same time was section 3 (“No prosecution for newspaper libel without fiat of Attorney General”). The Act also benefited newspaper owners insofar as it instituted provisions (section 4, 5 and 6) for the quicker (and hence cheaper) resolution of newspaper libel cases. Contrary to expectations, however, the passage of the Act correlated with an increase, rather than decrease, in the number of defamatory libel (criminal) actions being brought against newspapers. Whether the two were causally linked is not known, however.
In return, proprietors were happy to accept the reintroduction of compulsory registration that had been removed in 1869 (now provided for by sections 7 to 15 of the 1881 Act inclusive) double glass water bottle. These registration clauses, which include an exemption for proprietors who are already registered companies, have never been repealed and are still enforced. For the purposes of the Act, a newspaper is defined as “any paper containing public news, intelligence, or occurrences drill team uniforms, or any remarks or observations therein printed for sale, and published … periodically, or in parts or numbers at intervals not exceeding 26 days”. As of 2009, 56 newspapers and their proprietors were centrally registered as a result of these provisions. Under section 19 of the Act, it never applied to Scotland.