The new year always brings in changes in law or tradition which quietly and gradually make their weight felt.

January 1 this year was no exception. One change was the lifting of work restrictions across the European Union for two of the EU’s poorest members, Bulgaria and Romania.

Other quieter changes have occurred – it’s now okay for a young man to become a Boy Scout if he is an atheist with the removal of the Scout pledge to ‘do their duty to God’.

One of the most significant changes was the implementation of the Defamation Act 2013 which potentially affects anyone who writes or anyone who writes online.

The law means that someone cannot just sue for libel if they feel they’ve been criticised through someone expressing an opinion.

A person will now have to prove they’ve suffered ‘serious harm’ from comments or opinions which have been published.

The changes will make it difficult for companies to bring a libel claim against an individual.