Book Reviews

Duncan and Neill on Defamation

Publisher: LexisNexis

Authors: Sir Brian Neill, Richard Rampton QC, Heather Rogers QC, Timothy Atkinson & Aidan Eardley

Price: 221.13

Edition: 3rd Edition (September 2009)

ISBN: 978-0-406-17831-2

Buy from LexisNexis: Click Here

For any practitioners who do not deal with defamation on a daily basis, defamation is considered to be a difficult area of law with its mix of common law and statutory provisions.  It has therefore developed a reputation as being an area of law predominantly practised by a relatively small number of specialist media firms and barristers.  To overcome those perceptions, a clear, engaging and authoritative text is required: Duncan and Neill on Defamation certainly hits the mark on each of those three requirements and will no doubt be a favourite among defamation practitioners.

Duncan and Neill on Defamation is split into twenty-nine chapters and eight appendices.  The chapters include: the distinction between libel and slander; the meaning of defamatory; principles of construction; the case for a claimant - what a claimant has to prove; defences - general introduction; malice; offer to make amends; other defences; limitation; damages; injunctions; malicious falsehood; points of procedure; and appeals.  The appendices include: the Defamation Acts of 1952 and 1996; the Human Rights Act 1998 (relevant sections and schedule); the Limitation Act 1980 (relevant sections); and the Civil Procedure Rules and Protocol (key rules).

Written by a team of specialist and esteemed barristers, led by the Right Honourable Sir Brian Neill (one of the authors of the highly regarded second edition), Duncan and Neill on Defamation comes more than twenty-five years since the second edition was published in 1983.  As Lord Bingham rightly says in his foreword, it provides an "up-to-date, accurate, unopinionated, comprehensive, readily intelligible and (so far as the subject matter permits) simple account of the law and practice of defamation": I agree.  Duncan and Neill on Defamation manages to provide an excellent flashlight for anyone dealing with defamation law: whether they be inexperienced or seasoned professional.

The return of Duncan and Neill on Defamation is to be welcomed by all defamation practitioners.  It logically arranges the material into a straight-forward and accessible sequence meaning the reader quickly understands even the most complex point.  It also has excellent footnotes filled with a treasure trove of case-law and further discussion: these are invaluable starting points for further research.  Its appendices are also very useful but the authors could perhaps include some precedents for future editions to ensure Duncan and Neill on Defamation is a one-stop resource.  In the meantime, it will, no doubt, quickly become a fixture of any self-respecting defamation lawyer's library.

Reviewed on 4 March 2012

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