What is Defamation?
When there is a publication of a statement that lowers the reputation of another person.
How many types of defamation and what are they?
What is Libel?
- Defamatory statement in a permanent form.
- E.g. e-mail, articles, Facebook posts, WhatsApps messages.
What is Slander?
- Defamatory statement in a temporary form.
- E.g. spoken words.
Methods of interpreting the words in an allegedly defamatory statement?
- By their natural and ordinary meaning
- By innuendo
What is Innuendo?
- Ordinary words would have a special meaning to those with special background.
E.g. “Mr. A is enjoying his honeymoon with Mrs. X, who he married two weeks ago” may not appear to be defamatory in its ordinary meaning. However, if Mr. A is in fact married to someone other than Mrs. X, then the statement about Mr. A could be defamatory by way of innuendo to those who know the true story about Mr. A.
Elements of Defamation
- The words are defamatory; and
- The words refer to the plaintiff, and
- That the words have been published.
What are the Defences for Defamation?
- This defence can be raised if the defendant can prove that the published statement was actually true.
- Unintentional Defamation
- The Defendant unintentionally or innocently publishes defamatory material of another person.
- E.g. A reporter writes what is alleged to be defamatory article in a magazine.
- Fair Comment
- The statement made is an honest expression of an opinion about a matter of public interest.
Factors that Taken into Account by Court in Assessing Damages
- The seriousness of the libel
- The defendant’s behaviour from the time of the libel to the time judgment is given
- Any malice on the part of the Defendant