IPSO has announced what it falsely claims to be a new “Leveson-style” arbitration scheme in its latest attempt to mislead the public into believing that it is implementing the recommendations of the Leveson Report and providing access to justice to members of the public.
Its original “pilot” scheme had no takers and was flawed in many ways – including bias against members of the public with claims. The new scheme suffers from many of the same defects. It remains a system designed to pay lip service to the Leveson Report while, in fact, being heavily loaded in favour of IPSO’s press paymasters.
- The system is voluntary for IPSO members – most newspapers are not even part of the scheme
- Even those newspapers who have joined the scheme can pick and choose which cases go to arbitration, when Leveson said cherry-picking cases was not allowed and defeated the purpose.
- There is an arbitrary “cap” on damages of £50,000 and a complainant cannot recover exemplary damages however badly the newspaper has behaved.
- The scheme is run by a body, IPSO, which is controlled by the newspapers it claims to regulate and which is biased against members of the public
- The arbitration scheme has not been independently judged as being fair and independent as Leveson required
- There is a 12 month limit on bringing privacy claims that usually have a 6 year limit
- There can only be an oral hearing if the newspaper agrees – whatever the view of the arbitrator – and oral hearings must be conducted in private, at IPSO’s offices.
- The rules exclude appeals to the High Court on a point of law – so that the arbitration system cannot be used to build up a body of Judge approved case law.
- There is a “cap” on the costs which a complainant can recover of £10,000 – this means that newspaper, using in-house legal advisers – can devote huge resources to defending a claim, knowing that, if a complainant matches those resources s/he cannot recover the costs, however badly the newspaper has behaved. A litigant in person is limited to costs of £1,000.
It is not surprising that, in the 16 months since the IPSO arbitration system began operating as a pilot, no one ever has used it. It is a wholly inadequate substitute for the proper access to justice recommended by the Leveson Report.
In IPSO’s 3 years existence it has done no arbitrations, issued no sanctions against its members, fined no newspapers, and conducted no standards investigations.