Libel and slander
Libel and slander are types of defamation. Defamation occurs where a statement is made that is damaging to a person’s reputation or otherwise discredits that person or causes others to think worse of them. The statement must have been ‘published’ to a third person. However, ‘publication’ is used broadly to mean any means of communication. The communication does not have to be made to a wide audience – it is sufficient that the statement is communicated to one other person.
The difference between libel and slander is in the degree of permanence of the statement. This typically concerns the way in which the statement is made, that is, by what medium. However, the lines are not drawn sharply and the distinction between libel and slander can be difficult to discern.
Slander occurs where the statement is made in an impermanent manner. This will generally be where the statement is made orally, i.e. in speech. However, if the oral statement is recorded, such as recorded onto CD, it would likely be libel, as there is a degree of permanence to the statement.
Libel occurs where the statement is published with a degree of permanence. Generally this refers to written statements, but it can include recorded oral statements, as mentioned above. Most obviously, this would include publications in books, newspapers, magazines and journals. However, it may also include statements made by email or on online discussion boards and bulletin boards.
Whilst libel and slander are both defamation actions and substantially similar, there is a significant difference in terms of what must be proved for each. Proving slander can be more difficult for obvious reasons, as there is typically no record of it. However, not only must it be established that the statement was made, but for a slander claim, you must prove that actual loss or damage resulted. For libel, you do not need to prove actual damage. This often makes slander substantially more difficult to establish. There are some exceptions to this rule.
If you would like to obtain legal advice on libel and slander, Contact Law can put you in touch with local specialist defamation / libel / slander solicitors free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local specialist defamation / libel / slander solicitors please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.
- Last Updated on 06/12/2011