On November 15 RA Constitutional Court confirmed the constitutionality of legislative provisions on libel and insult. As it has been reported, on October 13 RA Human Rights Defender Karen Andreassian appealed to the Constitutional Court questioning the compliance of Article 1087.1 of RA Civil Code (“Order and Conditions of Compensation of Damage to the Honor, Dignity or Business Reputation”) to Article 14, Parts 1, 2, 3 of Article 27, and Article 43 of the Main Law. The RA National Assembly appeared as respondent in the case (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, October 21-27, 2011, and October 7-13, 2011).
The press release stored on the same day, November 15, on the Constitutional Court website (www.concourt.am), provided clarifications to the ruling, as well as recommendations on the application of Article 1087.1 by judges.
Particularly, according to the Constitutional Court, while defining the size of the moral loss compensation the court should take into account the incomes of the respondent. The financial burden put on the respondent must be proportional and should not adversely influence its activities. Besides, the indemnities should be limited by the compensation of the core damage inflicted by libel and insult to dignity, honor and business reputation, and should be set only in case when the non-material compensation is not enough for covering the damage. Application of non-material compensation should be of priority.
The Constitutional Court underlined that the indemnities should not be imposed for value judgments, as this can result in restriction of freedom of expression: the role of media is broader than merely factological reporting. Media should comment on facts and events to inform the public and should contribute to the discussion of significant public issues.
The Constitutional Court considers that while determining the size of the compensation, courts need to take into consideration the readiness of the respondent to bring apologies, to alleviate the damage, made to the plaintiff’s honor and dignity, through non-judicial procedures, including self-regulation mechanisms.
The Constitutional Court also reminded that the pieces on public figures, or dealing with significant public issues, in which politicians are involved, enjoy a higher level of protection. Therefore, the fact that the respondent is a high-ranked person should not be interpreted to the detriment of the respondent.
According to the Constitutional Court, “libel” and “insult” should be considered as such only if there is a malicious intent to discredit a person.
The Constitutional Court also noted about the need of examining the issue of reducing the maximum size of compensation for libel and insult.