Defamation involves the publication of words to third parties which tend to lower the reputation of the subject of the words, expose the subject to hatred, ridicule or cause them to be shunned and avoided, or disparage them in their business, trade, office or profession. A mere insult is not enough to amount to defamation.
There are two types of defamation, libel (written) and slander (spoken), and the remedy is usually compensation. However in exceptional circumstances, the Court may grant an injunction. Whilst it is normal to ask for an apology, the publisher of the defamatory comments cannot be forced to apologise or publish a correction.
In most cases, a claim must be brought within a year of the date of publication of the material so you must act quickly once aware of the defamatory comments and also, to limit the level of damage caused. The Court expects that a victim of defamation will actively pursue the vindication of their name.
Whether you are a proposed claimant or defendant, we can advise you as to whether a defence applies. There are a number of defences to a defamation claim, including:
Truth – where the statements published were true.
Honest comment – this applies to expressions of opinion, rather than statements of fact. The comment must be on a matter of public interest, be recognisable as comment and based on facts which are true.
Absolute privilege – where a statement was made in Court proceedings and/or Parliament and/or any report of those proceedings.
Qualified privilege – this is where a statement was made on a privileged occasion but not maliciously, including when the defamatory statements were made under a social, moral or legal duty to a person who has a corresponding interest in receiving them.