Defamation law - when are the words defamatory
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14 August 2009
There is no set definitions of the word defamatory. There are
however guidelines to consider if you feel you have been 'defamed':
1. Do the words used lower you in the estimation of right
2. Do the words tend to expose you to hatred, contempt or
3. Do the words used cause others to shun or avoid you?
There are a plethora of cases that are relevant:
Berkoff v Burchill and Another. In this case it was held
that a statement that a person was hideously ugly did not fall into the category
of statement that were defamatory by virtue of making people shun/avoid the
Instead it was held that the words used to describe the claimant
could expose him to ridicule and for this reason were held to be defamatory.
If the judge considers that the words are capable of being
defamatory then the question of whether they are actually defamatory is decided
by a jury.
To do this the jury must look at the statement in a context in
its effect on an ordinary reasonable fair minded reader.
For example in the case of Lewis v Daily Telegraph it was
held that the words were not defamatory as an ordinary reader would not presume
the guilt of the individual simply from reading the story.
It has to be shown that the that the article taken as a whole is
Jane Coyle is a trainee solicitor at Lawdit and can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-09-30 12:37:51 in Legal Articles