What is Defamation?

You believe that you have been “defamed”. Defamation can either be “Slander” if it is the spoken word, or “libel” if it is the written word. The term “defamation” covers both.

But what is “DEFAMATION?”

Words will be defamatory if they tend to lower the offended party in the eyes of right thinking members of society generally and/or the words cause you to be shunned or avoided or the words expose you to hatred, contempt or ridicule

If you decide to take it further, and claim damages for the alleged defamation, it is the Judge alone who will decide whether a particular statement is capable of being defamatory but it will be a jury’s task to decide whether in the particular circumstances of your case, whether the statement is in fact defamatory.

It will be much easier if you have been named or directly associated with the statement by reference to a photograph, then proving your case will be considerably easier than where the reference to you is more obscure

The Statement which you regard as defamatory must have been communicated in some way to another party (i.e. a third party) though a fresh action arises as a result of each repetition of the statement

It is therefore substantially a question of fact in the particular circumstances of the case. It is a technical matter and requires careful thought before embarking upon an action of this nature

There are then a number of Defences which include:-

  • Justification – where the statement is factually true
  • Fair comment – where it is a genuine expression of opinion, as against fact, on a matter of public interest and regarded as fair. If there was malice on the part of the person who made the statement, it goes without saying that it could not have been fair
  • There is also what is referred to as “qualified privilege” where the maker of the statement had a duty to make the statement and you had an “interest” in receiving it

If you are serious about making such a claim, then you will claim damages, in effect for loss of reputation. The Damages will be assessed by the Judge after the jury has reached its decision on the alleged defamation

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