Guidelines

Section 18: The Law

Introduction

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18.1

BBC producers, whether making programmes or other content, should seek the advice of Programme Legal Advice whenever legal problems are encountered or suspected.

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, victims of sexual offences and reporting restrictions.

Advice on other issues should be sought from the relevant department (see below).

There are significant differences between the legal systems of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland which, if not observed, can cause serious problems. 

Programme Legal Advice has a duty lawyer on call 24 hours a day for urgent news enquiries.  For advice on Scottish media law consult the BBC Principal Solicitor, Scotland.

In addition, Programme Legal Advice keeps a list of lawyers in various countries and may be able to assist with advice on foreign law.

In this section, children are referred to according to legal definition rather than the ages used elsewhere in the Editorial Guidelines.

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