Defamation

Defamation involves the wrongful publication of a false statement about a person, which tends to lower that person in the eyes of right thinking members of society or tends to hold that person up to hatred, ridicule or contempt, or causes that person to be shunned or avoided by right-thinking members of society.

This is a not a statutory definition and each part of the definition has been the subject of judicial reasoning over the years. The Courts try to balance the conflicting rights of free speech with the right to a reputation.

Defences to defamation include justification, privilege, fair comment, consent, apology, and offer of amends.

What the right thinking members of society think changes from place to place and over time.

The two major means of defaming somebody are by way of slander and by way of libel. Many people understand slander to be verbal defamation and libel to be written defamation, but in fact libel is more properly regarded as involving publication in a permanent form whereas slander involves transient publication.

We advise in relation to all of the above matters.