US ban on libel tourists


The US Senate has passed a bill to shield American journalists, authors, and publishers from “libel tourists” who file suit in countries — including Australia — where they expect to get the most favourable ruling.

The popular bill headed to the House of Representatives last night, which was expected to approve it and send the measure to President Barack Obama to sign into law, despite misgivings from key US allies.

Backers of the bill have cited England, Brazil, Australia, Indonesia and Singapore as places where weak libel safeguards attract lawsuits that unfairly harm US journalists, writers and publishers.

The Senate approved the measure in a “unanimous consent” voice vote.

The measure would prevent US federal courts from recognising a foreign judgment for defamation that is inconsistent with the first amendment of the US constitution.

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