Defamation meaning.

Defamation is when a false statement about an individual is published, which has caused harm to the person’s reputation. Additionally, defamation can come in the form of either libel or slander. Libel is when a defamer publishes a statement permanently, for example, a newspaper article. In contrast, slander is a temporary form of defamation, for example, a verbal comment in a publicised interview.

Also, if you’re a victim of defamation and want to make a claim, you must be able to prove the following:

  • The defendant was responsible for the publication.
  • The victim was the intended target of the publication.
  • That the defamer published slander or libel through a third-party.
  • The defamer knew the statement was false at the time they made it. 

In instances where the defamer didn’t know whether the statement was true or false, it’s possible still to claim defamation on the grounds of ‘reckless disregard’.

Is it a crime?

In the Uk, defamation isn’t classed as a crime but as ‘tort’. Tort is a wrongful act or an infringement of a right. As a result, the person who conducted the tortious act takes legal liability for their actions. Therefore, the victim can sue the defamer for damages.

Someone going on the BBC app to read about the latest celebrity defamation case

How to deal with defamation of character?

If you can prove defamation of character, there are several remedies available, which include:

1. Damages. Damages come in the form of compensatory and exemplary. Compensatory damages are when a victim’s awarded money as compensation for the loss caused by the defamer. In comparison, exemplary damages are in place to punish the defamer for their actions. Additionally, the court can use exemplary damages to ensure that the defamer and others defer from engaging in similar conduct in the future.

2. Injunctions. Injunctions come in the form of interim and final. The interim injunction prohibits a defamer from any publication pending the trial to prevent injustice. In comparison, a final injunction prohibits the future publication of the statement or any similar defamatory matter.

3. Publication of a summary of the court’s judgement. The court can order the defamer to publish an overview of the judgement. For example, the court may request the defamer to publish the case’s final verdict.

4. Order to remove the statement. A more simple remedy is to remove the false information. For example, if the false statement is an article on a website, the court can order the website operator to remove the article.