The Defamation (Operators of Websites) Regulations 2013

The Defamation (Operators of Websites) Regulations 2013 came into force on the 1st of January 2014, and applies to England and Wales. It gives webmasters and site owners added protection from action arising from posts made by website users. Forum posters have more responsibility for their own content and it becomes harder for companies to sue for libel or defamation.

If a complaint is received, we have two options:
  1. Edit or remove the content that generated the complaint; or
  2. Leave the content in place and ask the author whether they wish their details to be disclosed to the complainant or they'd rather edit their comments.

Most people would probably prefer to have their comments removed rather than their identities revealed so this would be our chosen course of action, however, you may tell us otherwise if you wish.
It should be noted that the only information we'd normally have would be your IP address and email address.

The process is set out here:

To trigger the process, a person complaining about a statement posted on an operatorís website must send the operator a notice of complaint. Regulation 2 and Section 5(6) of the Act set out the information that must be included in a notice of complaint.

These provisions require that the notice must state where on the website the statement was posted, set out what the statement says and explain why it is defamatory of the complainant, and explain what meaning the complainant attributes to the statement and what aspects he or she believes are factually inaccurate or are opinions not supported by fact. The notice must also confirm that the complainant does not have sufficient information about the poster to bring proceedings directly against him or her.

The complainant does not have to provide detailed evidence to support what is said, but the intention is that the poster should have sufficient information to reach an informed decision on how to respond. The complainant must also provide his or her name and an e-mail address at which he or she can be contacted, but can ask the operator not to provide this to the poster of the statement. These provisions were supported by a substantial majority of those who provided views on the content of the regulations.

Where the complainant does not provide all the required information, to retain the defence Regulation 4 provides that the operator must inform the complainant of this in writing within 48 hours of receipt of the notice of complaint, and must tell the complainant what is required for a notice to be valid. In common with other instances under the regulations where an operator is required to take action within 48 hours, this time period excludes non-business days such as weekends. The operator is not required to specify exactly what it considers is wrong with the notice that the complainant has sent. This avoids imposing any obligation on an operator to guide or advise the complainant.