Book review - Defamation: Law and Practice (2nd Edition) by Neville Cox and Eoin McCullough

Pagespp 168 - 170
Published date12 July 2022
Date12 July 2022
Defamation: Law and Practice
Defamation: Law and Practice by Neville Cox and Eoin McCullough (2nd edn,
Clarus Press 2022)
In the eight years since the rst edition of this text was published there have
been numerous developments as the contours of the Defamation Act 2009 (the
‘Act’) continue to be mapped out. ese developments in respect of the tort
of defamation have taken place against a backdrop where traditional liberal
free speech theory is challenged by advances in technology which have been
weaponised and seem poised to undermine the democratic values on which Article
40.6.1 of the Constitution was based. e authors of Defamation: Law and Practice
do not shy away from these broader issues, contextualising their work and placing
it in its wider political and international context to good eect. e Introduction is
particularly insightful in this regard and throughout the text, the chapters are both
informative and thought provoking in their analysis of the challenges arising for the
Law of Defamation both practically and philosophically in the era of Web 2.0.
e book is, as the title suggests, a textbook on the Law and Practice of Defamation
and it covers the subject matter comprehensively with a view to assisting both the
student and the practitioner. Both will be well served by this book. It is divided
into four Parts: e Elements of the Tort of Defamation, Defences in a Defamation
Case, Available Reliefs and Practice and Procedure. is is preceded by an
Introduction which is rich in analysis and sets the Constitutional and Convention
backdrop for the remainder of the text. is chapter would not be out of place in
a text on freedom of expression itself and it will be particularly useful for students
seeking to grasp the key themes that arise when considering the potential clash
between freedom of expression and reputation. e updated discussion of the case
from the European Court of Human Rights and its evolving understanding of
reputational rights in this chapter is informative and covers an oen neglected area
of the case law from Strasbourg.
One of the features of the law in this area is the plethora of interlocutory
applications and unreported decisions. e authors have researched the case law in
great depth and breadth and the book includes references to decisions of the High
Court of England and Wales as well as Irish Circuit Court decisions which might
otherwise go unnoticed. By bringing into relief such developments, they do a great
service to the busy practitioner who will nd a useful seam of case law for mining in
the book as a whole. e separate Part on Practice and Procedure is similarly useful
* Dr. Ailbhe O’Neill is Ussher Assistant Professor at Trinity College Dublin. Any opinions expressed
in this article are those of the author alone.

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