Defamation covers both libel and slander. Both relate to the publication of defamatory material, which is material that adversely affects a person’s reputation. The distinction between the two is that libel concerns “lasting” forms of publication such as print, online or broadcasting. Slander concerns more transient forms such as spoken word or gestures.
A statement is not defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause “serious harm” to the reputation of the victim. The threshold for “serious harm” is relatively high. A statement may be considered to cause “serious harm” where it is likely to cause serious financial loss or substantially affects the attitudes of others towards that person.
The victim must also establish that the words complained of are published (i.e. communicated) to a third party and that the potential defendant published or is responsible for the publication of the words.
The victim must prove that the words complained of were published about them. This is straightforward if the claimant is named or clearly identified.
A claim must be brought within one year from the publication’s date. The court may is limited circumstances disapply the limitation period in certain circumstances which include (but are not limited to):
It is important to note that there are certain defence to a defamation claim which include (but are not limited to):
The remedies available for defamation are damages, an injunction, publication of a summary of the court’s judgement and an order to remove the defamatory statement. The court does not have a general power to require the defendant to correct the defamatory statement or declare the statement to have been false.
Our solicitors can assist you in claiming or defending a claim for defamation. Our approach will be as follows: