The UK’s largest press regulator has today launched a compulsory version of its low-cost arbitration scheme, giving an alternative to court action for victims of press abuse at the seven best-selling national daily newspapers.
The Independent Press Standards Organisation first announced the plan in May, moving closer towards recommendations made in the Leveson Inquiry report for an affordable arbitration scheme for people who want to make genuine complaints against the press.
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The scheme will mean any of the 16 newspapers signed up will have no choice but to go through arbitration when anyone with a “valid legal claim” against them takes their case to IPSO and pays a maximum fee of £100.
IPSO has also increased the powers of arbitrators in requiring publishers to pay damages to a successful claimant, up from a cap of £50,000 under the voluntary scheme to £60,000 including aggravated damages.
The scheme will cover libel, invasion of privacy, data protection and harassment claims.
National newspapers covered by the scheme include the Telegraph, Mail, Metro, Times, Sun, Express, Star and Mirror titles, although Mail Online and Metro.co.uk are not participating.
IPSO chief executive Matt Tee said: “The compulsory arbitration scheme covers the biggest national newspaper titles in the UK and is a low-cost means of people who have been wronged by a newspaper getting compensation without the expense of court and legal fees.”
Once IPSO has accepted an arbitration claim, a senior barrister will be appointed as the arbitrator and will make a preliminary ruling on some of the core issues in the dispute.
“This provides a basis for settlement talks and may indicate the likely success of the claim,” Tee has said previously.
“If one of the parties wants to continue the claim, it goes to a final ruling, after which the arbitrator can award damages and fees, if the claim is successful.”
IPSO said the Press Association and 13 magazines published by Conde Nast remain members of the existing voluntary scheme.
The voluntary scheme allows publishers to choose which cases they agree to arbitrate, but has not carried out any arbitrations since it was established in 2016.
Not all IPSO members are signed up to offer arbitration.
Newspapers covered by the compulsory arbitration scheme comprise: Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Weekly Telegraph, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Metro, Times, Sunday Times, The Sun, The Sun on Sunday, Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, and Sunday People.