As we’re sure you will have heard, there has been a flurry of recent activity in which the three major political parties in England have reached an agreement on the way forward for press regulation following the Leveson Inquiry last year.

On 18 March 2013 a draft of a Royal Charter was published by the Department for Culture Media & Sports for the “self regulation of the press” which has the approval of the three main political parties. The proposed Royal Charter will not establish a press regulator itself but will establish a “Recognition Panel” which will have oversight of a regulator.

There are also proposed amendments to:

  • the Enterprise and Regulation Reform Bill whereby the Royal Charter is not be amended without a two thirds majority of both Houses of Parliament; and
  • the Crime & Courts Bill whereby the courts will be given power to impose exemplary damages on “news publishers” which do not subscribe to the new regulatory framework and where a court case could have been resolved by a proposed new arbitration system.

A number of important issues remain unclear, not least the extent to which the press will support these proposals and the extent to which news coverage over the internet will be regulated.