But individuals can use English libel law to intimidate and silence their critics. The BBC, in a classic example of English understatement said about Robert Maxwell - "Many people cowered from criticising him, not least because of his readiness to confront his critics in the libel courts." Criticism of the man was stifled during his lifetime by his aggressive use of threats of an expensive legal battle. It didn't take long for editors of publications to avoid the risk of upsetting him.
The issue became a matter of international concern as a result of gagging orders which meant that national newspapers were not able to report parliamentary questions. [The Trafigura Affair, 2009]
A report in the Guardian outlines how Jack Straw, the current lord Chancellor, intends to address the issue. It is available here.