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The law of defamation is governed by the Defamation Act 1996 (the “Act”) and
has been enhanced by an abundance of case law which together set out the
following summarised points:
§ Types of defamation; and
Although no definition has been formulated by the Act itself, legal opinion
and authority has offered definitions which may be summarised as:
‘Any publication, whether spoken, written or otherwise, to a third person
which is false and has the affect of adversely affecting another’s reputation.’
Types of defamation
Libel and slander distinguish the law of defamation where it may take the
different forms of publication either in transient form by the spoken word,
gestures (slander); and where publication exists in a permanent form such as the
written word, printed, or broadcast over the television, radio or indeed the
Internet (a combination of broadcast and printed form).
It is an important note that in respect of libel there is no requirement to
show that there has been suffered any loss or injury as a result of the
statement. Libel is actionable per se.
Criteria for libel
There are three criteria that must be proved in order to satisfy a court that
defamation exists. They are:
1. The statement must be defamatory. Such a statement will be regarded
despite any intention of the author. A statement may alternatively give rise to
a secondary meaning apart from any first sight innocent interpretation. This
type of statement is known as innuendo when considered together with additional
or extrinsic facts that is known to the reader.
2. The statement must refer to the aggrieved party either directly or
indirectly. It is therefore a requirement that the one who claims defamation
must be able to point to their identification within the publication.
3. The final requirement is to show that publication was exposed to a third
party. There are various interpretations that assist in identifying publication
to a third party, none of which blur an ordinary common sense meaning.
The test that is to be applied will be whether a reasonable person would
react to the statement in such a manner so as to have a lower opinion of the one
who made the statement.
About the Author
Lawdit Solicitors offer services and
advice for litigation, commercial contracts, Intellectual Property and IT legal
agreements. We are experts in commercial law with a heavy emphasis on
Intellectual Property, Internet and e-commerce law. Lawdit is a member of the
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-04-25 21:36:28 in Legal Articles