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IPSO arbitration procedure

If you have been defamed in the press, had your privacy breached, or if you have been harassed by a journalist or photographer then we may be able to assist you in using arbitration as an alternative to conventional legal action.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) Arbitration procedure is an alternative dispute resolution system which was introduced in July 2016.  The scheme is presently operating on a trial basis.

How the IPSO Arbitration Procedure works

In an arbitration an independent third party (in this case a specialist IPSO-approved barrister) is appointed to adjudicate on a dispute between two parties.

The scheme can only be used in relation to complaints against participating publications.  A full list can be found here.  The list includes The Daily Mirror, the Daily Express, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Daily Mail, The Sun and the Press Association.  The list does not include The Guardian or The Independent.

Publications are under no obligation to arbitrate – both parties must agree to formally start the process.  If agreement is reached the case is transferred by IPSO to the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR).

The parties are required to lodge written submissions setting out their positions.

The case will then be allocated an arbitrator, who may require further evidence to be submitted or documents to be disclosed.

The arbitrator will make an early determination on the core issues.  This is called a ‘Preliminary Ruling’.  IPSO aim for this to be done within 30 days of the arbitrator being appointed.  The matter will then be put on hold for 21 days to give the parties an opportunity to try and reach a settlement (taking into account the Preliminary Ruling).  Where this is not possible, a party can ask that the matter proceed to a Final Ruling.  The Final Ruling is binding on the parties.

There will not normally be an oral hearing (and will never be one unless both parties agree).  The arbitrator’s decision will usually be based solely on written documents.

Complaints must normally be brought within one year of the alleged wrongdoing.

What are the possible IPSO outcomes?

The arbitrator may:

  • Award compensation up to a maximum of £50,000;
  • Require the publisher not to re-publish the offending content;
  • Require the publisher to remove the offending content from its website (and/or use all reasonable endeavours to seek the removal of the information from third party websites);
  • Require the publisher to destroy the relevant material;
  • Require the publisher to desist from the conduct complained of; and/or
  • Require the publisher to publish a summary of his/her ruling; or
  • Dismiss the complaint.

When parties agree to arbitrate they agree that any decision of the arbitrator will be binding.  This means that it will not normally be possible for either party to disregard the decision, reargue the matter in court or bring a claim based on the same facts.

Arbitration costs

If the dispute is resolved following a Preliminary Ruling, the complainant only incurs an arbitration fee of £300 plus vat.  If the matter goes to a final ruling an additional arbitration fee of £2,500 plus vat applies.  In rare instances where an oral hearing is required there may be a further arbitration fee.  Publishers are also required to pay (much larger) fees.

These fees, together with some or all of any legal costs incurred, may be recovered from the publisher in the event of the complaint being upheld or a settlement being reached.

A publisher will not normally be able to recover any of their costs from unsuccessful complainants, unless a claim has been deemed to be wholly without merit, trivial, frivolous or vexatious.  A complainant may also be required to pay some of the publisher’s costs if he/she withdraws from an arbitration.

How we can help

If you decide to seek an arbitration we will advise you and guide you through the process.  We can draft the relevant written submissions and liaise with IPSO and the publisher on your behalf.  Whilst there is no requirement to use solicitors, we can help ensure that your case is focused on the relevant factual and legal issues and that it is presented in a manner that does it justice, giving it the best chance of succeeding.  This is particularly important where there is no oral hearing and rulings are based entirely on written submissions.

The scheme is designed to be a quicker and generally more cost-effective alternative to formal legal proceedings.  However, it will not always be the most appropriate route.  In some instances, it may make more sense to make a conventional complaint to IPSO or pursue a traditional claim for defamationprivacy or harassment.  In most instances we offer fixed-fee preliminary consultations to assist you in deciding how best to proceed with your complaint/claim.

Why should I instruct Brett Wilson LLP?

In short, to ensure that you have the best team fighting for you and to maximise your prospects of success.  Defamation law is notoriously complex and it is generally ill-advised to instruct non-specialist lawyers.  Our work and client care is of the highest standard.  All cases are run by a specialist defamation solicitor.  We are confident we can help you seek the best result.

When your claim is asserted on Brett Wilson LLP’s letterhead, you can be sure it will be taken seriously.  We advance claims against the press every week and are well-respected within newspapers’ legal departments.  Where a newspaper has made a mistake it will normally be possible to reach a relatively prompt resolution.  Where this is not possible and it is necessary to go to court or to the regulator, where required, we know what we are doing.

As well as being listed in the prestigious Legal 500, Chambers and Partners and The Times Best Law Firms directories as a leading firm in the fields of defamation, privacy and reputation management law, partners Iain Wilson, Max Campbell and Tom Double are all individually recognised as leading individuals.  Iain Wilson and Max Campbell are additionally recommended by the Spear’s 500 HNWI directory for their reputation management work.  Iain Wilson is also recommended in the Tatler Address Book.  Most importantly, the firm receives excellent feedback from its clients and contemporaries.

Taking legal action can be stressful, time consuming and costly.  Therefore at the outset of your case we will conduct a cost benefit analysis with you. We will talk you through this process. We offer honest and pragmatic advice to our clients.  We will always consider alternative options, including approaching intermediaries or PR work.

How do I instruct Brett Wilson LLP?

The first step is to attend a preliminary consultation.  At the consultation we will advise you on the merits of any claim, talk through the relevant practical and legal issues, and set out your options.  We will review relevant documentation ahead of the consultation.  The consultation will help you understand your position and allow you to make an informed decision about what action to take.

Consultations take place in our London offices or by Zoom/Teams/telephone.  We can also travel to you.

To request a consultation please send us an emailcomplete our online enquiry form or call us on 020 7183 8950.  If emailing or using the online form, please provide a short outline of your situation.

Details of the cost of a consultation will be provided following your enquiry.


We regret that we are unable to review your case, consider papers or provide advice prior to a consultation or without being formally instructed.  

We do not offer alternative funding arrangements. 


Contact us to request a consultation

Call 020 7183 8950
or send us a message.

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