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Defamation in United Kingdom

Definition of Defamation

In accordance with the work A Dictionary of Law, this is a description of Defamation :

The *publication of a statement about a person that tends to lower his reputation in the opinion of right-thinking members of the community or to make them shun or avoid him. Defamation is usually in words, but pictures, gestures, and other acts can be defamatory. In English law, a distinction is made between defamation in permanent form (See libel) and defamation not in permanent form (See slander). This distinction is not made in Scotland. The remedies in tort for defamation are damages and injunction

In English law, the basis of the tort is injury to reputation, so it must be proved that the statement was communicated to someone other than the person defamed. In Scottish law, defamation includes injury to the feelings of the person defamed as well as injury to reputation, so an action can be brought when a statement is communicated only to the person defamed. If the statement is not obviously defamatory, the claimant must show that it would be understood in a defamatory sense (See innuendo). It is not necessary to prove that the defendant intended to refer to the claimant. The test is whether reasonable people would think the statement referred to him, but the defendant may escape liability for unintentional defamation by making an offer of amends (See apology). Other defences are *justification, *fair comment, *absolute privilege, and *qualified privilege.

All those involved in the publication of a defamatory statement, such as printers, publishers, and broadcasting companies, are liable and every repetition of a defamatory statement is a fresh publication, giving rise to a new cause of actio A mere distributor of a book, newspaper, etc., is not liable if he did not know and had no reason to know of its defamatory contents. The Defamation Act 1996 put this defence on a statutory footing and generally speeded up procedures for defamation litigation, but it did not change the rule that the jury and not the judge decides on the damages in defamation cases.

Definition of Defamation

The publishing of a defamatory statement which refers to the claimant and has no lawful justification.

Defamation and Medieval Law

Defamation and Legal History


See Also

  • Marriage (in this legal Encyclopedia)
  • Marriage (in this legal Encyclopedia)
  • Ancient Law (in this legal Encyclopedia)
  • Concilliar Courts (in this legal Encyclopedia)
  • Canon Law (in this legal Encyclopedia)

Bibliographies of English Law History

  • Maxwell, William H. A Legal Bibliography of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Volume 1: English Law to 1800. London: Sweet and Maxwell, 1955-
  • Beale, Joseph H. A Bibliography of Early English Law Books. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1926.
  • Winfield, Percy H. The Chief Sources of English Legal History. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1925.
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(2017, 02). Defamation lawi.org.uk Retrieved 05, 2022, from https://lawi.org.uk/defamation/

02 2017. 05 2022 <https://lawi.org.uk/defamation/>

"Defamation" lawi.org.uk. lawi.org.uk, 02 2017. Web. 05 2022. <https://lawi.org.uk/defamation/>

"Defamation" lawi.org.uk. 02, 2017. Accesed 05 2022. https://lawi.org.uk/defamation/

Agostino Von Hassell, 'Defamation' (lawi.org.uk 2017) <https://lawi.org.uk/defamation/> accesed 2022 May 20

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Schema Summary

  • Article Name: Defamation
  • Author: Agostino Von Hassell
  • Description: Definition of Defamation In accordance with the work A Dictionary of Law, this is a description of Defamation : The [...]

This entry was last updated: November 4, 2020


Libel and Slander

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