A voluntary newspaper regulator yesterday launched a dispute resolution scheme that requires members of the public to make an up-front payment of just £50 to kick off a legal claim, with a further £50 payable only if the case goes to final ruling.
The scheme was set up by IPSO, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, which was created in the wake of Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry to replace the Press Complaints Commission.
IPSO is not recognised by the body set up to approve applications under the Royal Charter on Self-Regulation of the Press – the Press Recognition Panel.
However, it represents most national newspapers as well as the Press Association and Conde Nast UK magazines, but not The Guardian and Observer, the Financial Times, or the Independent titles.
IPSO said the arbitration scheme, which will be for media law claims and administered by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), offered low-cost access to justice as envisaged by Leveson LJ.
The new scheme replaces a year-long pilot – also run by CEDR, in which both parties agreed to binding arbitration overseen by specialist barristers – and slashes the cost of a claim from £300 to a maximum of £100, split into two halves. Publishers will fund the remaining administration costs and all of the arbitrators’ fees.
Under the scheme, losing claimants will not be required to pay the other side’s costs, unless an arbitrator judged the claim was wholly without merit or vexatious.
Publishers could be ordered to pay winning claimants up to £50,000 in damages and claimants up to £10,000 in costs; or up to £1,000 for claimants representing themselves.
The scheme will be run in parallel with IPSO’s free regulatory complaints process, with both tracks hearing claims under the code of practice IPSO-regulated publications have signed up to – the Editors’ Code.
IPSO’s chief executive, Matt Tee, said: “A key theme of the Leveson report was access to justice for those that can’t afford to go to court…
“Access to low-cost arbitration is an important part of the service we offer to the public and I’m pleased that we have been able to reduce the up-front cost of arbitration for a claimant to just £50.
“In fact, even if the hearing proceeds to final ruling, the maximum it will cost a member of the public is £100, thus making the IPSO scheme fully Leveson-compliant.”