Portsmouth Law School

Our PhD students

David Acheson

  • Qualifications: LLB, LLM
  • Role Title: PhD student
  • Address: Richmond Building Portland Street Portsmouth PO1 3DE
  • Telephone: tba
  • Email: david.acheson@myport.ac.uk
  • Department: School of Law
  • Faculty: Portsmouth Business School


Nationality: British - Supervisory team: Greg Osborne (first supervisor), Dr Ansgar Wohlschlegel, Lisa Wheeler - Year of Graduation: 2016

Title: The Defamation of Companies: Free Speech, Public Protection, and the Economic Consequences of False Statements on the Value and Reputation of Companies.

Thesis Summary:

Having obtained a Master’s Degree in Media Law, Policy and Practice from the University of East Anglia in 2012, I felt it important to research in more detail the question posed in my dissertation: ‘should corporations have a cause of action in libel?’.

This research analyses the origins and effects (both actual and potential) of s1(2) of the Defamation Act 2013; the requirement that a ‘body that trades for profit’ should demonstrate ‘serious financial loss’ in order to sustain a claim in defamation.

The history of corporate defamation in general, and s1(2) in particular, will be traced in detail in order to shed light on the approach taken by Parliament. There will be significant analysis of the early operation of the Act with regard to corporate claimants, and some comparative work will be undertaken on jurisdictions with different approaches to the perceived issues surrounding corporate defamation.

The thesis will explore the conceptual nature of the corporate claim to reputation, and investigate the potential effects of that analysis on the substantive law of defamation. There will be a focus on the balancing of reputation rights with freedom of speech, which is an essential element of English libel law; and the issue of SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) will also be considered.

The aim of the research is to gain some insight into the appropriateness of s1(2) of the Defamation Act 2013 and its practical implications; and to make more general suggestions regarding the various problems posed by corporate defamation claims.