There was no distinction drawn between written and spoken words, and when no pecuniary penalty was involved, such cases fell within the old jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts, which were only finally abolished in the eighteenth century.
It seems uncertain whether or not any generally applicable criminal process was in place.
Northern Ireland is not subject to the Defamation Act 2013 and has not passed a similar reform.
This has already caused controversy regarding the publishing of the book and broadcasting of the documentary Going Clear.
In that particular case, no English authorities are cited, except for a previous case of the same nature before the same tribunal; the law and terminology appear to be taken directly from Roman sources, with the insertion that libels tended to cause a breach of the peace, and it seems probable that a not-too-scrupulous tribunal had simply found it convenient to adopt the very stringent Roman provisions regarding the libelli famosi without paying any regard to the Roman limitations.
From that time, we find both the criminal and civil remedies in full operation.
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