- the act of suing a writer for alleged defamation in a foreign jurisdiction where there are weak libel laws.
The term libel tourism was coined somewhat cynically to describe taking advantage of the legal system of a foreign country where it is easier for you to file a libel lawsuit against a writer or journalist for publishing serious criticisms of or accusations against you. The United Kingdom, for example, has been a favorite venue for a so-called libel tourist to sue for libel, because traditionally under British law the burden of proof rests with the defendant (the accused author and/or publisher), who must establish to the satisfaction of both judge and jury that the published statements in dispute are not defamatory. This contrasts sharply with U.S. law in which it is the plaintiff (the person filing the suit) who must establish not only that a critical statement made about him or her is untrue, but also that it was published with a reckless intent to do harm. After several high-profile libel suits filed in the U.K. against U.S. authors resulted in judgments against the authors—lawsuits that, in the opinion of many jurists, probably would not have held up in a U.S. court of law—Congress in 2010 passed the SPEECH (Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage) Act. The title of the act speaks volumes: foreign libel judgments are no longer enforceable in the U.S. unless they meet the same high legal standards in libel matters as required by U.S. law, including that they do not violate the First Amendment right of free speech of an American author. Thus the tourist must return home.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018