Defamation law is a notoriously difficult area of law and defamation cases can be difficult to prove. There are several elements that must be established in defamation cases, provided by both the Defamation Act 1966 and by common law.
It must first be established that the statement concerned was defamatory. Whilst there is no legislative definition of what constitutes a defamatory statement, the case law coming from defamation cases over the years has defined it as a statement which ‘tends to lower the person in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally’. The courts have also held that where a statement exposes the person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or causes the person to be shunned or avoided, it may also be defamatory.
Additionally, it must be established that the statement was published to another person. Published in this context is interpreted broadly and includes any means of communication to a third party or parties.
It must also be possible for other people to identify you from the statement. Thus, if the statement does not refer to you by name, you must prove that the statement was understood by the recipient as referring to you. Identification may be made from the use of your nickname or initials, or by your membership of a class or group of people.
If the publication was oral, or in an otherwise transient form of publication, this particular type of defamation, slander, requires you to prove additionally that you suffered loss from the making of the statement. This is not required in libel defamation cases, in which the statement was written or published in an otherwise permanent manner.
Further, it is important to consider in defamation cases whether, despite establishing these elements, there is a valid defence. Possible defences include: justification or truth of the statement; fair comment; and technical defences of privilege.
If you think that you may have a defamation case, Contact Law can put you in touch with local specialist defamation solicitors free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local specialist defamation solicitors please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.
- Last Updated on 02/03/2010