Defamation, Libel and Slander
We set out on this page a brief summary on the important terms used in dealing with cases in this category: We have dealt with a number of cases where customers have been accosted by staff in shops and have taken actions. A brief view of those cases is provided here
- The publication (i.e. communication) to a third person of a statement which exposes a person to hatred, ridicule or contempt
- or causes him to be shunned or avoided
- or tends to injure him in his office, calling or business.
The test being whether the words tend to lower the person in the eyes of right-thinking people.
Merely means communication. Word of mouth to one other person is sufficient.
- Publication is by word of mouth or indicated by gestures.
- It is necessary to prove that actual damage was suffered
- allegation of committing crime
- imputation of infectious disease (e.g. Aids)
- disparagement as to one’s trade, profession or office
- imputation of unchastity to a woman (Slander of Women Act 1891).
If a crime is alleged against a person, it does not matter if the utterance is written or verbal, it is libel and damages can flow even if no actual injury is suffered.
- Publication is by writing or other permanent form.
- A statement in a broadcast is a libel, not a slander.
- A libel is considered more serious than a slander.
- It is not necessary to prove actual damage.
Defences to Defamation:
- Consent of Plaintiff
- Fair comment
- Fair and accurate report
- Apology (not a defence, but may mitigate)
- Offer and Amends (in the case of unintentional defamation)