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libel tourism

n. (context legal derogatory English) A form of forum shopping in which plaintiffs choose to file libel suits in jurisdictions thought more likely to give a favourable result.

Libel tourism

Libel tourism is a term, first coined by Geoffrey Robertson, to describe forum shopping for libel suits. It particularly refers to the practice of pursuing a case in England and Wales, in preference to other jurisdictions, such as the United States, which provide more extensive defences for those accused of making derogatory statements.

A critic of English defamation law, journalist Geoffrey Wheatcroft, attributes the practice to the introduction of no win no fee agreements, the presumption that derogatory statements are false, the difficulty of establishing fair comment and "the caprice of juries and the malice of judges." Wheatcroft contrasts this with United States law since the New York Times Co. v. Sullivan case. "Any American public figure bringing an action now has to prove that what was written was not only untrue but published maliciously and recklessly."

Two other critics of English defamation law, the US lawyers Samuel A. Abady and Harvey Silverglate, have cited the example of Irish– Saudi businessman Khalid bin Mahfouz, who by the time of his death in 2009, had threatened suit more than 40 times in England against those who accused him of funding terrorism. Mahfouz also took legal action in Belgium, France and Switzerland against those repeating the accusations. George W. Bush advisor Richard Perle threatened to sue investigative reporter Seymour Hersh in London, because of a series of critical articles Hersh had written about him. In 2006 American actress Kate Hudson won a libel action in England against the British edition of the National Enquirer magazine after it published an article suggesting she had an eating disorder.