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In the Bognor Regis case [1972] 2 QB 169 no attempt was made to weigh the public interest in freedom of expression against the public interest in the protection of reputation. (3d) 755 it is uncertain whether that case remains good law in Canada in the light of the constitutional guarantee of free speech in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: see Edmonton Journal v Attorney-General for Alberta (1989) 64 D. The Law Times report contains a somewhat longer judgement of Day J in these terms, 63 LT 805, 806-807:"This action is brought by the mayor, aldermen, and citizens of the city of Manchester to recover damages from the defendant in respect of that which is alleged by them to be a libel on the corporation.

This is not a hypothetical matter: the defendant in the Bognor Regis case [1972] 2 QB 169 was completely ruined by the legal costs of defending a libel trial for having handed out a leaflet at a ratepayers' association meeting in a village hall. Seditious libel requires proof of a seditious intention, whereas state of mind is immaterial for defamatory libel, since malice is implied from the mere publication of defamatory matter. Where there has been judicial weighing of the competing public interests, it has been held that governmental bodies cannot sue in respect of their governing reputations: City of Chicago v Tribune Co (1923) 139 N. In the absence of legislative intervention by Parliament, it is the constitutional function of the courts, when declaring and applying the common law, to ensure that the law does not unnecessarily interfere with free expression: see In re Alberta Legislation [1938] 2 D. The judgement of Day J in the Queen's Bench report is in these terms [1891] 1 QB 94, 96:"This is an action brought by a municipal corporation to recover damages for what is alleged to be a libel on the corporation itself, as distinguished from its individual members or officials. It is altogether unprecedented, and there is no principle on which it could be founded.If there is a legitimate need for a local authority to protect its reputation, why should its ability to do so depend on whether, fortuitously, it could prove malice. If the council were to succeed in this appeal, any governmental body with corporate status could bring libel proceedings against a newspaper or individual citizen alleged to have defamed its governing reputation. In the United Kingdom there is no Act of Parliament incorporating the guarantee of free speech contained in article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms into domestic law. Subject to the sovereign power of Parliament to intervene by legislation, the common law matches the protection given to free speech by article 10. There are only two reported cases in which an English local authority has sued for libel.A non-malicious publication may cause just as much damage as a malicious one. Such bodies would be able to wield the very sharp sword of libel proceedings to deter or suppress public criticism and information about what they do as the people's representatives and public servants. 254 and Die Spoorbond v South African Railways, 1946 A. The fundamental human right to free expression is an essential feature of citizenship and of representative democracy. The first is Manchester Corporation v Williams [1891] 1 QB 94, 63 LT 805.Now it is for us to determine whether a corporation can bring such an action, and I must say that, to my mind, to allow such a thing would be wholly unprecedented and contrary to principle.

A corporation may sue for a libel affecting property, not for one merely affecting personal reputation.

On appeal by the plaintiff:-Held, dismissing the appeal, that since it was of the highest public importance that a democratically elected governmental body should be open to uninhibited public criticism, and since the threat of civil actions for defamation would place an undesirable fetter on the freedom to express such criticism, it would be contrary to the public interest for institutions of central or local government to have any right at common law to maintain an action for damages for defamation; and that, accordingly, the plaintiff was not entitled to bring an action for libel against the defendants, and its statement of claim would be struck out (post, pp. Manchester Corporation v Williams [1891] 1 QB 94, D. Decision of the Court of Appeal [1992] QB 770; [1992] 3 WLR 28; [1992] 3 All ER 65 affirmed on different grounds. This was an appeal, by leave of the Court of Appeal, by the plaintiff, Derbyshire County Council, from the decision of the Court of Appeal (Balcombe, Ralph Gibson and Butler-Sloss L. On the contrary, section 222 of the Local Government Act 1972 confers a wide power on local authorities to institute civil proceedings of all types. It is open to question, however, whether qualified privilege attaches to the publication of fair information on a matter of public interest concerning the manner in which a public officer performs public functions: see Webb v Times Publishing Co Ltd [1960] 2 QB 535 and Blackshaw v Lord [1984] QB 1, in which the Court of Appeal took too narrow a view of the scope of privilege in such circumstances. A civil court can grant prior restraint of publication, and damages are potentially without limit. Their Lordships took time for consideration.18 February 1993.