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Barrister-at-Law, UK
Co- Founder & Partner, Samvad Partners

Date & Time

Saturday Sat, 24 Feb 2024


Bangalore International Centre
7, 4th Main Road, Domlur II Stage
Bangalore, Karnataka 560071 India

Recent months have seen increasingly fraught debates over the pros and cons of limiting or prohibiting free speech to counter the effects of hateful expression, on the one hand, and false or misleading messages (often described as ‘fake news’), on the other, especially on social media and other online platforms. Some governments have already imposed wide-ranging curbs on freedom of expression and justified such restrictions as necessary for societal peace and harmony. But free speech advocates have argued that sweeping legislative measures to tackle hate speech and ‘fake news’ raise serious concerns, including well-founded fears that they may result in silencing dissent and discouraging free and frank democratic debate.

The subject presents formidable challenges on many fronts, including legal, political, cultural and social. There is clearly a need for careful, calm and intelligent thinking on appropriate responses. Such responses will have to be multi-pronged and will have to include legal/regulatory actions as well as those based on ethical norms, education and persuasion.

This lecture by Dr Venkat Iyer will attempt to throw light on key issues relevant to an understanding of both the problem and possible solutions. This will be followed by a conversation with Poornima Hatti and a Q&A session with the audience.


Venkat Iyer

Barrister-at-Law, UK

Dr Venkat Iyer is a barrister and academic based in Northern Ireland. He is attached to the School of Law at Ulster University where, in addition to being Director of Educational Partnerships and International Affairs, he teaches media law, constitutional law, and business law. Dr Iyer has been in legal practice since 1981 and is, among other things, a trained mediator. Between 2008-15 Dr Iyer served as Law Commissioner for Northern Ireland.

A former Nuffield Press Fellow at Cambridge University, Dr Iyer has lectured in a number of foreign universities, including Meiji University (Japan), University of Melbourne (Australia), Tsinghua University (China), Fordham University (USA), University of Malaya, International Islamic University of Malaysia (Malaysia), University of Bombay (India), and Soochow University (Taiwan), and continues to be a visiting professor in several institutions.

In 2003-2004 – and again in 2012 – he was invited by the Royal Government of Bhutan to advise on, and draft, media laws for that kingdom. In 2007, he was appointed a consultant by the World Bank to design a programme on Continuing Legal Education for the Kenyan Bar. In 2011, he was asked to review the Broadcasting Act in Vanuatu and to recommend changes to the media law regime in that country. Since 2012 he was consulted by the Burmese government on a wide range of media law related matters. Dr Iyer runs training courses on media law and media ethics for newspapers and media organisations around the world. He has also been engaged in designing and delivering capacity building programmes for judges and magistrates in various jurisdictions, and frequently runs judicial training programmes.

Dr Iyer is the author of a number of books and articles, and the editor of two journals, The Commonwealth Lawyer and The Round Table: Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, both published from London.

Poornima Hatti

Co- Founder & Partner, Samvad Partners

Poornima Hatti is the Co-Founder and Partner, Bengaluru, Samvad Partners. She was also a Chevening Gurukul Scholar, University of Oxford in 2022. Completed her LLM from the London School of Economics, UK, 2006 (Graduate Merit Scholar) and her B.A., LL.B (Hons.) from the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, 2003.

Poornima is a co-founder and heads the dispute resolution practice for Samvad Partners. She has consistently been ranked as a leading lawyer by Chambers and Partners, Legal 500 among other directories. Ms Hatti also sits as an arbitrator and mediator works on issues of diversity and inclusion at the workplace. She is a guest lecturer at various law schools across the country and has co-edited a book on Leadership and Role Modelling published by Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.