Section 18: The Law - IntroductionSection 18.1
BBC Legal handles legal issues affecting the BBC, with different departments dealing with different issues.
The Programme Legal Advice department gives pre-transmission advice on the main content-related issues including defamation, privacy, contempt of court, legal rights of anonymity and all other types of reporting restrictions. Programme Legal Advice has a duty lawyer on call 24 hours a day for urgent enquiries. In addition, Programme Legal Advice keeps a list of lawyers in other jurisdictions and may be able to assist with advice on foreign law.
Advice on copyright (including fair dealing) and trade marks can be obtained from Intellectual Property. Specialist data protection advice can be obtained from Information Rights.
There are some significant differences between the legal systems of England and Wales and Scotland and Northern Ireland which, if not observed, can cause serious problems. For advice on Scottish media law, consult the BBC Legal Director, Scotland.
While following the Editorial Guidelines will often ensure that BBC content will be legally defensible, there are situations where the law imposes specific obligations, or requires standards, that are not addressed fully in these Guidelines. It is important, therefore, that referrals to Programme Legal Advice and other legal departments are adhered to. As the law is subject to interpretation and change by the courts and by statute, content producers should, in any event, consider whether taking legal advice would be appropriate.
Other common legal considerations are set out in this section.