What Is Defamation

Defamation is the act of harming another persons character be it through a false written or oral statement. In order for a statement to be Defamatory it must be both false and communicated. Different types of the Defamation Act are as follows Libel  as in a written, broadcast or otherwise published words, Then we have Slander which refers to a malicious, false and defamatory spoken statement or report. To qualify as a defamatory statement it must touch upon one of four areas:

Attack the persons professional standing or character. Claim that the person is infected with a sexually transmitted disease. State that the individual, if married, is unchaste or unclean.
Assert that the person has committed a crime of moral turpitude

The individual must also demonstrate that he or she suffered damage as a result.

Not many people understand the damage that can be done just by attacking someone’s character, How many young teenagers have we seen take their own lives because of the lies that have being told about them on social network sites etc. It can have a huge effect on a persons whole life. This law has started to be mentioned quite a lot in the last couple of years mainly where celebrities are concerned and  in doing so has made the law more known among the pubic.

One case we are all aware of would be the Lance Armstrong and the Sunday Times case. The paper in 2006 had settled in a libel case and paid out over £300,000 pounds to the former gold medallist after making false allegations that the star had taking performance enhancing drugs but here is the twist the story was in fact true and the paper are now suing for a return of the settlement.

A lot of the slander cases can indeed come from internet sites such as Facebook. People need to realize that Facebook is like a public bulletin board that the world can read, so be cautious when
it comes to posting on-line regardless of the topic.

Some popular questions answered about Defamation:

Can a person sue a Company for Defamation of character and slander?

If someone believes your company is telling harmful lies about them, you can definitely sue. Hundreds of people have done so be it a newspaper or television companies that they believe have defamed them.

Can an opinion be Defamatory?

No but labelling a statement as your “opinion” does not make it so, courts look at whether a reasonable listener or reader could understand the statement as asserting a statement of verifiable fact.

If I write something Defamatory will a retraction help?

Some jurisdictions have retraction statutes that provide protection from defamation lawsuits if the publisher retracts allegedly defamatory statement.

If a person gives their consent and then changes their mind can they still sue?

No action of Defamation can arise out of a statement the complainant consented to the publication of.

I hope this article gives you a better understanding of how even saying or implying something that has no truth in it about an individual can affect you so get all the facts beforehand.

This article was submitted to our blog by Gillian Harris who is studying journalism in Marino Technical College, this was part of a work placement assignment.

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