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English Libel Law's Pernicious Impact on First Amendment Speech

English Libel Law's Pernicious Impact on First Amendment Speech

Citizen Media Law Project director David Ardia walks us through Floyd Abrams' op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal.

From the Citizen Media Law Project blog...

Floyd Abrams published an op-ed today in the Wall Street Journal that highlights the impact of foreign law, especially English libel law, on speech in the United States. Abrams notes:

"English libel law has come to have a disturbing impact on the right of Americans to speak out. England has become a choice venue for libel plaintiffs from around the world, including those who seek to intimidate critics whose works would be protected in the U.S. but might not in that country. That English libel law has increasingly been used to stifle speech about the subject of international terrorism raises the stakes still more."

As an example of the pernicious effect of English libel law, Abrams mentions the case of Rachel Ehrenfeld, who was sued for libel in the United Kingdom by Saudi banker Khalid Bin Mahfouz over her book, "Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Funded and How to Stop It," which she published in New York. According to evidence in the case, a mere twenty-three copies of the book were sold in England, but that was sufficient for a U.K. court to exercise jurisdiction over Ehrenfeld. As a result of Ehrenfeld's refusal to appear or accept the court's jurisdiction, the judge entered judgment against her in the amount of $225,000.


Please join us next Tuesday, May 6, for a luncheon talk from the CMLP! They'll be giving us an update on all they've been up to.

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