HI there! I have a small blog and I recently published an article that called out a particular individual for his behaviour. The article is very well referenced and transparent. However, it was suggested to me that I get insurance cover for libel. Another suggestion was that I form a limited company for my tiny little blog so that it would be difficult to come after me financially. I know that you are a law firm, not insurance brokers, but I wondered if you have advice for someone in my position regarding next steps to protect myself. Thank you for your time.
Alasdair Taylor's Answer
In respect of many types of liability, a limited company (or other limited liability entity) is a very good way of protecting personal assets. However, defamation is a bit different, and a complainant will often sue an individual author along with a corporate publisher. For this reason, libel insurance policies taken out by a company often cover individual authors as well. It has been some years since I looked at a specialist defamation insurance policy, and generally speaking these are only taken out by larger organisations. Some professional indemnity policies do include defamation protection; but others do not. You would need to review the content of a policy very carefully before deciding it offered the right sort of protection.
Companies and insurance aside, perhaps the most practical solution here is to ensure that you can rely upon the truth and honest opinion defences set out in the Defamation Act 2013:
Of course, the real question is not whether the matter is true or honest opinion, but whether you can prove this. Just because something is published elsewhere, that doesn’t make it true.
Another point to consider is the resources of the potential claimant. Bringing libel proceedings can be an onerous and/or expensive endeavour. Does the potential claimant have the time/energy or money to do so?
In summary: it’s best to ensure that your post is defensible; if it isn’t, then you might want to think about taking it down. Insurance could provide added protection, but it may be difficult to find a suitable policy for these circumstances.