Parliament will start discussing the Media and Defamation Bill in second reading on Monday, March 27.

The decision was communicated to the Opposition by government whip Godfrey Farrugia during this evening's meeting of the House Business Committee.

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici presented the first reading of the Bill, which has caused widespread controversy, last October.

Among other things, it seeks to update defamation laws, abolish criminal libel in media laws, introduce the new civil tort of slander, and regulate web-based news and current affairs services.

The Bill also protects journalists from being subjected to prohibitory injunctions while doubling the maximum amount of damages awardable for libel. 

It also encourages increased use of alternative means of dispute resolution such as the right of reply, voluntary clarifications, mediation and other practical means of avoiding libel litigation.

The House will also discuss new electoral boundaries on March 22.

The committee was informed that it is government’s intention to have a First Hall of the Civil Court in Gozo.

The Bill establishing this will be read on Tuesday, March 14. The House will rise for the Easter holidays on April 12 and meet again on May 02.

 

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