Defamation is defined as the publication of a statement that harms a person’s reputation. It is a catch-all phrase for both libel and slander. Libel primarily involves written statements, whether in print or online, whereas slander primarily involves spoken words.
With the increased use of social media, defamatory comments can be easily published and distributed to multiple recipients with little thought. Social media posts can ‘snowball,’ potentially reaching millions of people worldwide in a matter of seconds. When most people think of defamation, they think of high-profile cases involving well-known personalities suing the press. There are numerous well-known examples, including Kate Winslet, Cliff Richard, and most recently Johnny Depp. However, this area of the law is relevant to people from all walks of life, and we handle defamation cases in a variety of contexts.
What is the Law Regarding Defamation?
The Defamation Act of 2013 is the primary piece of legislation governing this area, supplemented by previous legislation and Court decisions. Other causes of action, such as a claim for malicious falsehood, may exist in addition to a defamation claim.
How Do You File a Defamation Claim?
To bring a successful defamation claim on behalf of a client, the statement must be demonstrated to be one that tends to lower the claimant’s standing in the eyes of right-thinking members of society. This means that the meaning of the statement, or the ‘defamatory sting,’ must be carefully and critically examined from the start.
The claimant must be identified or named, and the statement must have been made public to a third party or parties. It is also required that its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the claimant’s reputation. This is done to prevent frivolous claims from being brought before the courts.
Defamation claims are governed by a Pre-Action Protocol, which provides the parties with a clear framework for moving the case forward. The Protocol encourages the parties to exchange information as soon as possible and to engage in alternative dispute resolution to avoid the case going to court if possible.
How are Defamation Cases Resolved?
The precise nature of how defamation claims are resolved varies from case to case and is determined by whether the parties agree to terms of settlement, or the matter is resolved by the Court. If the parties reach an agreement, it is common for an apology and correction to be combined with a monetary payment as compensation and/or in respect of the claimant’s legal costs and expenses.
The Court has the authority to award monetary damages, issue an injunction, publish a summary of the judgement, and order the removal of the defamatory statement. However, the Court lacks the authority to order the defendant to correct the defamatory statement or to declare the statement false.
About Van Eaton Solicitors
Defamation law is highly specialised, and it is critical that you consult with a professional early on to determine whether you have a legitimate claim. You may be required to pay your opponent’s fees if you file a claim in the wrong court, do not follow the Protocol procedure correctly, or do not plead your claim correctly.
Van Eaton Solicitors specialises in assisting clients with defamation claims. We make every effort to ensure that our clients have access to justice. We can also advise you on how to protect your good name and manage your or your business’s reputation. If you are a victim of defamation of character, you can contact our London-based solicitors for a free, no-obligation consultation. Book your consultation today by calling us on 0208 769 6739 or by completing our online form.