Defamation claims – protecting your reputation

 

By Cassandra Anane

Defamation is where a false statement is made to the public and which ultimately gives a negative impression about a person’s lifestyle or business etc.  Defamation can be committed in two different forms:

  • Slander: This is a harmful statement, which is presented in a transitory statement. This would include a person openly making negative comments in a speech
  • Libel:  This is where a harmful statement is made in a visual format and is published for all to see. This will ultimately include words written or imagines published on websites, newspapers or magazines

Claiming defamation can often be quite a difficult matter to prove. But here at Contact Law we have a range of specialist solicitors, ready and prepared to assist.

An example case

An example of a particularly good case I have come across was when a nurse was pictured in a magazine with a caption alleging she was an arsonist. Due to her occupation this was particularly damaging and as a result a retraction and a large sum of money was awarded to her by the court.

Other cases such as unflattering comments made on social networking sites, such as Facebook, are more difficult to pursue.

Defences for defamation

There is a very thin line between defamation and an opinion. As such there are a few defences which can be used for a defamation claim, some of which are below:

  • Statements made in a good faith: this will have more impact depending on the nature of the case. For instance, it may suffice for the average person to rely on a single newspaper report, whereas a newspaper would be expected to carefully check multiple sources
  • No actual injury: This applies to slander. A claimant will only be successful if damage has actually been caused. This means that if a statement has been made and the claimant has not suffered from a loss, their claim will not be successful
  • Opinion: If the alleged defamatory assertion is an expression of opinion rather than a statement of fact, the defamation claim usually cannot be brought because opinions are inherently not falsifiable
  • Fair comment on a matter of public interest: statements made with an honest belief on a matter of public interest

If you are interested in pursuing or defending a defamation claim, get in touch with us today on 0800 1777 162 and we will be more than happy to discuss your options with you.

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