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What qualifies for defamation of character?

We often hear about high profile cases involving defamation of character. It is an education for us but does the law protect us in our every day lives? How to we recognise and communicate what we see that qualifies as defamation of our character? What can be done about it?

Statements can be made about you that cause you financial loss or downgrades our character.  These statements of actions can be made by mistake, carelessly or maliciously.  You want to do something about this. So you need to take immediate action.  We need to start the action by relating to the UK law on defamation.

What is considered defamation?

Defamation is any statement whether oral (slander) or written (libel) that damages the reputation of another individual or organisation.  The statements are only qualified as defamation if they are actually false. A true statement cannot be defamatory even if it causes hurt to you. So, you cannot pursue a claim for defamation if the statement made is or was true.

What about an online defamatory statement?

When you make a statement online you need to be absolutely sure that it is a true factual publication. For example, if a malicious online statement such as…

‘I found mice droppings in my pasta in the restaurant and I have samples to prove it’ …

was a false statement made online. If it is proven that the black particles were in fact fried herbs tossed in the pasta, then this would be considered defamatory.

What if the restaurant started losing customers or income as a direct result of reading this statement and rating online? The restaurant is entitled to a pursue a claim against the author and/or publisher of the statements or ratings made.

Can an opinion be defamatory?

If the statement is an opinion, then it is not false because it is based on the author’s subjective belief system. For example,

…‘the service in this restaurant was worst I have experienced and will get no star rating if I could rate it’…

This is an opinion.  This is a subjective statement because someone else may feel that the service was the best they’ve had.

It does take some time to identify what qualifies as defamation of character as it relates to you. The defamatory statement should be material enough to be ‘of and concerning’ you. It should be sufficient enough for right minded individuals to recognise that the statement relates to you personally.

How do you prove defamation?

You should start with the following:

  • Provide proof that the published statements or media was false or a false representation of you.
  • Correctly identify the author or publisher of the statements or media.
  • You suffered damage as a result of the defamatory statements or media.
  • Certify that the author or publisher published the statements or media to persons other than you.
How do you sue someone for defamation?

If you have sufficient proof that someone made defamatory statements made about you, then you can pursue a claim. Firstly, instruct a lawyer to send a letter a pre-action letter to the publishers. This letter will demand that they remove all defamatory material or stop all defamatory statements. Meanwhile, you can assess the damages that the defamatory material caused you, such as financial loss or loss of reputation.

Is defamation a crime in the UK?

Defamation in the UK is unlawful. In the UK, you can pursue a claim in the civil courts. Court cases can be sometimes expensive to pursue. Nevertheless, a defamatory claim is open to anyone who suffers loss and damage as a result of it.  The Courts can order the publisher to remove the defamatory statements and media from all sources where third parties or the public can access it. The Courts can order the defendant to remove the defamatory statements and/or award damages to you, the claimant.

If you feel that you need assistance about something published about you, then feel free to consult us today to talk about it and a way forward.

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