Defamation or slander can have serious effects on you or your business. Our solicitors can help you defend your reputation if you’re a victim.

Defamation experts

Defamation is a very complex area of law and cases can take a year or more to complete. Before going to court, it is necessary to follow procedures specified under the Defamation Pre-Action Protocol. Ask a lawyer who will be able to discuss the merits of your potential claim and guide you through the legal hurdles.

What constitutes a defamatory statement?

Although there is no single definition of what a defamatory statement is, a defamatory statement made against someone is one which is untrue and has one or more of the following effects:

lowers them in the estimation of ‘right-thinking’ members of society generally;
disparages them in their business, trade, office or profession;
exposes them to hatred, ridicule or contempt; or
Causes them to be shunned or avoided.
Whether the words are defamatory depends on the precise words used. The words are judged by the standards of society generally at the time the defamatory statement or publication was made.

Under the Defamation Act 2013, a new requirement of ‘serious harm’ was introduced. This means that it is necessary to establish that the defamatory statement must have caused (or would be likely to cause) serious harm to the claimant.

Serious harm to the reputation of a business or company can only be proven if the defamatory statement caused serious financial loss.

Who can bring a claim for defamation - and how?

Individuals, businesses and other legal entities can lodge a claim for libel or slander, but only if they believe the defamatory statement is about them. Claims cannot be brought by central or local government, unincorporated associations or on behalf of dead people.

In order to bring a claim for defamation, the individual or business will need to prove:

that the statement was defamatory
that it referred to them (ie they are named or they can be identified from the information)
that the defamatory statement was published (ie communicated to a third party)
A claimant will also need to bring an action for defamation within one year from the date the defamatory material was published. The court will only accept claims after one year if they think it would be fair to do so.


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