Defamation is a tort that relates to the publication of a statement that has caused, or is likely to cause, serious harm to a person’s reputation.

The published statement can either be written or spoken.

A defamatory statement published in written form is known as libel, while a defamatory statement published in spoken form is slander.

For a defamation claim to be actionable, the statement that is being complained about must have been published within the last year. As a general rule, you cannot sue someone for defamation if the statement was published over a year ago unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Successful Defamation: Key Ingredients

In order to bring a successful defamation claim against someone, the following key ingredients need to be satisfied:

  1. The defamatory statement must refer to, or be capable of identifying, the claimant (i.e. the person bringing a claim).
  2. The defamatory statement must be capable of causing serious harm to the claimant’s reputation. This can also include serious financial loss.
  3. The defamatory statement must be a statement of fact instead of an honestly held opinion.
  4. The defamatory statement must not be true.

The burden is on a defendant to prove that the defamatory statement is true. It will be a complete defence to a claim if a defendant can show that the statement was true or an honestly held opinion.

In defamation cases, damages are usually awarded to compensate the claimant for the damage to their reputation and for any distress, hurt and humiliation that the defamatory publication has caused.

At Monan Gozzett, we have extensive experience of dealing with defamation claims. We understand that dealing with such claims can often be stressful and require careful handling.

If you require any further information, then please do not hesitate to get in contact with our Commercial Litigation team by phone, email or by filling out the form below and we will be in touch.

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