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21.05.2000 | Sergey Bobok, Kharkov

More on libel cases

   

Vitaliy Boyko, the chairman of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, made a speech at the joint meeting of the Presidium of the Supreme Court and the Council of Judges. He remarked that sometimes courts rule inadequate decisions on the libel cases against mass media.

‘It is especially obvious, when the size of the moral damage caused by a premeditated murder is estimated in several thousands grivnas, while the moral damage in libel cases against mass media is estimated in several millions of grivnas. Such decisions are ruled, in my opinion, because the law has not set the limit size of the moral damage and did not give constructive criteria for its assessment. There is a tendency to make mass media bankrupt by recovering the moral damage. Courts must not permit to attract themselves into political fights, that unfortunately exist in our society.’

Judge Boyko said that a libel fine for a publication in mass media rather often is ‘unreasonable’. In judge Boyko’s opinion, this is permitted by drawbacks in the work of legislators and in the work of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, which also did not give a constructive procedure of calculating the moral damage.

Judge Boyko appealed to his colleagues to cooperate with mass media in a more active manner. ‘Hands of some judges begin to tremble when they see a dictaphone’, — said judge Boyko — ‘This is abnormal. The growth of the authority of the judicial power considerably depends on the work of journalists’.

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