There’s now another way for people upset about UK news articles to complain. Press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation announced this month a “year-long arbitration pilot scheme” to handle legal claims filed against member publications.
The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), a conflict management firm, will “run the pilot,” which will manage any legal claims like libel, invasion of privacy and harassment and can order one side to pay costs. Stories have to have been published in the last 12 months, IPSO’s website states, and complainants can’t file an arbitration claim through the system if a court already ruled against it.
People can still sue news outlets outside of the arbitration scheme, though.
The arbitration plan “will not replace” IPSO’s complaints handling but only one can be completed at a time– either a legal claim or a regular complaint through IPSO. “A claimant has to choose between one or the other,” IPSO told iMediaEthics. “We cannot process an arbitration claim whilst a complaint relating to the same issue is ongoing and we reserve the right to close a complaint if a claimant decides to pursue a legal claim relating to the same issue, regardless of whether that claim is pursued via arbitration.” That said, someone could go through arbitration after going through the complaints process, or vice versa.
“The IPSO arbitration pilot is a method of dispute resolution used to provide a cost-effective, straightforward and quick method of solving legal disputes between claimants and participating members of the press,” the press release from IPSO says. “It is a voluntary scheme where both parties agree to binding arbitration overseen by specialist barristers recruited by CEDR to act as arbitrators.”
One goal is to keep costs down. So how much will arbitration through IPSO’s plan cost? “The bespoke scheme attracts a small fee from both claimant and publication,” IPSO’s release says. “The costs have been fixed and kept to a minimum and are capped at £2,800 (+VAT) for the claimant, though if the case is resolved after a preliminary ruling, it will only cost £300 (+VAT).” (VAT is value added tax.)
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More than 20 publications will test out the arbitration plan, according to an IPSO press release sent to iMediaEthics. IPSO told iMediaEthics by e-mail, “Due to the differences in Scottish law, the participating publishers have chosen not to include their Scotland-only publications as part of the pilot. However, if a potential claimant lives in Scotland and wants to make an arbitration claim against a participating title they are able to do so via the scheme.”
The 20+ publications are:
The Daily Mirror, The Sunday Mirror, The Sunday People, The Liverpool Echo, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, The Weekly Telegraph, Brides, Conde Nast Johansens, Conde Nast Traveller, Glamour, GQ, GQ Style, House and Garden, Love, Tatler, The World of Interiors, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Wired, The Daily Express, The Daily Star, New!, OK!, Star Magazine, The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Times Literary Supplement, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Metro as well as the Press Association.
IPSO told iMediaEthics that “anyone that expressed an interest was included” in the pilot.
UPDATE: 8/17/2016 12:40 To explain complainants can use both complaints and arbitration process just not at the same time. (Complainants could go through arbitration, then complaints, or vice versa.)