Verkhovna Rada proposed to restore the unreliability presumption for negative information
A draft bill proposing to restore the unreliability presumption for negative information has been registered in the Verkhovna Rada.
On January 24, People's Deputy Antonina Slavytska registered the according draft bill №8380 "On Amendments to Article 277 of the Civil Code of Ukraine regarding recognition of information as unreliable".
The draft bill provides for the restoration of Article 277 Part 3 of the Civil Code of Ukraine ("Rebuttal of unreliable information"), which reads: "Negative information about a person is considered unreliable unless the person spreading it proves the opposite."
The explanatory note to the draft bill says that it was developed in order to ensure a proper mechanism for the citizens to protect their honor, dignity, and business reputation, as well as to remove the obligation to prove that the information is unreliable from the plaintiff in cases related to rebuttal of unreliable information.
The author of the draft bill noted that in 2014, the rule on the unreliability presumption for negative information was removed from Part 3 of Article 277 of the Civil Code by Law №1170-VII "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Made Due to the Adoption of the Law of Ukraine 'On Information' and the Law of Ukraine 'On Access to Public Information'".
"Abolition of the unreliability presumption for negative information has had a significant impact on judicial protection and trials in cases on the protection of honor, dignity, and business reputation. Since it is much more difficult to prove that a something did not happen than that it did, because an existing fact leaves traces, evidence that can be investigated. If someone claims that another person committed a dubious act, it is much more difficult to prove that such an act did not take place than vice versa," the deputy noted in the explanatory note.
IMI media lawyer Roman Holovenko notes that the adoption of such a draft bill would indeed make the work of lawyers representing those who are contesting the veracity of certain information in court, in particular against journalists or the media, easier. "Different countries around the world have different experiences as to how the burden of proof in defamation cases is distributed, both with such a presumption in the law and without it," the lawyer noted.
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