Defamation is when a person claims actions taken by another has ruined or damaged their reputation. Defamation is not a criminal law offence. Instead defamation falls under the category of civil law. As defamation is categorized under civil law, when a defamation case is filed the aggrieved party is seeking financial compensation for damages to their reputation. Defamation law strikes the balance between the right to freedom of speech for all and the need to ensure people can protect their reputations arising from false and harmful comments.
Defamation can occur in both written and spoken form
If defamation occurs in writing, such as in a newspaper, it is called libel.
If defamation occurs when spoken, such as during a speech, it is called slander.
Proof Of Defamation
Suing someone for defamation is when a person takes legal action to protect his or her reputation. In order to prove that a person has been defamed, proof has to be established. The statement that caused the defamation case can be written, spoken or images such as a cartoon or photograph. The defaming statement needs to show proof of:
• Must be published
• False information
• Injurious results
• The Statement Was Unprivileged
The Statement Was Published
In order to show proof of defamation the statement must have been published. This means that a third party must have been present or have heard, seen or read the defaming statement.
The Statement Held False Information
The information in a defaming statement must be false. Even if the statement is considered horrible or mean, it is only defamation when it is false. If a person writes a bad review about a new book, it is not necessarily defamation as the statement can not necessarily be proved to be wrong.
There Were Injurious Results
A statement that defamed an individual must have caused injurious results to that person’s reputation. This can include losing employment, having the press harass them and being shunned by friends or associates.
The Statement Was Unprivileged
In order for a defamation case to be filed the statement must be unprivileged. In some environments statements are protected by law from being considered defamation and are considered privileged. For example, the statement that a witness makes during a court case is considered a privileged statement. This is also true of government ministers and lawmakers.