Myerson are specialists in representing businesses and individuals in defamation, libel and slander claims.
Our litigation team is rated as “top tier” by the independent Legal 500 and you can therefore be assured that you will receive the best possible expert care and advice. We are friendly and approachable, yet our expert solicitors will fight your corner when required. If you have a potential defamatory claim or need advice to defend a defamatory claim, please call one of our expert solicitors now.
Defamation covers both libel and slander. Libel is a more lasting form of publication such as print, online or broadcasting. Slander is more transient i.e. spoken words or gestures. Slander is generally only actionable if a claimant can show that the slander has caused tangible damage. By contrast, in libel, damage is presumed.
The recent Defamation Act 2013 made significant changes to the law of defamation and will apply to all libellous and slanderous comments made on or after 1 January 2014. The Defamation Act 1996 also remains largely in force with the most important provisions in that Act relating to the offer of amends defence and statutory privilege (see below). The law of defamation also has to accommodate the provisions of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) and in particular the fact that an individual’s right to reputation is part of the Article 8 right to respect for private life. The Article 8 right also has to be balanced with the right to freedom of expression enshrined in Article 10.
The law of defamation also overlaps with other laws such as malicious falsehood (i.e. malicious false statements), breach of confidence, misuse of private information, harassment, breach of data protection laws and infringement of intellectual property rights.
Establishing a defamation claim
In order to establish a claim in defamation, a claimant must establish that the words complained of are defamatory of him. The assessment that is often used by the Courts is whether the statement lowers the claimant in the estimation of right-thinking people in society. Whether the words are defamatory will depend on the precise words used. A statement is not defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the claimant’s reputation.
A claimant in a defamatory claim must also establish that the words complained of have been published to a third party and that the defendant published or is responsible for the publication. In the case of books, newspapers and television programmes this may be easy to establish.
The meaning of the words complained of is central to any defamation claim. Whilst a publication may be understood in many different ways according to who reads or watches it, what the Court will do is find a single or “right” meaning of the words complained of. In other words, the Court will look at what the meaning of the words complained of would mean to an ordinary and reasonable person.
Defending a defamation claim
There are a number of defences available in defamation proceedings. They are as follows:
(1) the statement complained of is a statement of opinion,
(2) the statement indicated the basis of the opinion and
(3) an honest person could have held the same opinion based on any facts or assertions existing before or at the time the defamatory statement was published.
(1) that the statement complained of was, or formed part of, a statement on a matter of public interest and
(2) that the defendant reasonably believed that publishing the defamatory statement was in the public interest.
How We Can Help
A member of our specialist team will be happy to help.
To discuss Defamation (Libel and Slander) issues, please either use the contact form on the right, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us today on +44(0)161 941 4000 to speak to a member of our team.