Defamation of character

Defamation of character occurs when someone makes a false statement about you to a third party that is damaging to your reputation.

Defamation of character law is designed to protect and compensate individuals and business from having their character and reputation improperly damaged by untrue defamatory statements.

Under defamation of character law, if you make out a successful defamation case in court, you may be able to stop that person from making or publishing such statements about you. You may also be able to get compensation.

What is defamation of character?

Defamation of character happens when someone says or writes something untrue about you (or your business or product) which is damaging to your reputation (or that of your business)

The false information needs to be about the characteristics of a person (or their business or product). It must cause damage to the image of that person (or their business or product).

A defamation of character lawsuit will only be successful if the information published is:

  • Untrue in some respect
  • Exaggerated
  • Reported in an intentionally misleading way

In the UK, there is no statutory definition of defamation. Instead, various statements by the courts contribute to a common law definition of defamation.

Each definition has a common link to the reputation of the person or business about whom the statement is made. The most widely regarded definition of defamation is a statement made which ‘tends to lower him in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally’.

How must the statement be made?

The statement must be communicated to a person other than the person whose reputation is being damaged.

When someone says something bad about you (or your business) it can be hard to be objective about whether it was defamatory. For this reason it is important to obtain advice from a specialist defamation solicitor who is experienced in assessing defamation claims.

For example, insulting or abusive statements are not always defamatory. What needs to be shown is that the statement damages your reputation, or lowers you in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally.

How do you make a defamation of character claim?

A defamation of character claim has a unique process when a claim occurs. The claim is brought in the High Court and is heard by a jury as well as a judge.

You should always get advice from a solicitor if you think you might have a defamation of character claim. A defamation solicitor can give you advice on how strong a case you have.

Particularly, if you have lost business or money through a damaged reputation it could be worth seeking compensation. Specialist defamation lawyers are equipped to guide you on your best route of action and likely remedies, whether you have been the victim of defamation or if, indeed, you are being accused of it.

Call us for free on 0800 533 5787 or use the web-form to the right to speak to an advisor who can put you in touch with the right solicitor for your needs.

Important information

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