Slander and libel claims are becoming increasingly more common in the age of social media. Any false or misleading statement that affects an individual’s reputation can be classed as defamation but is important to know the law, which is tricky, before making a claim. In our previous article, we discussed the necessary steps needed to make a defamation claim, but there are two main factors to distinguish between: slander vs. libel.
Both terms fall under defamation law, but to make a successful claim, you need to ensure that the statement is, in fact, a defamatory one. Slander and libel cases can range in size and nature, but with the right civil litigation solicitors and always the right evidence , you can build a claim with sound merit. At Van Eaton Solicitors, our dispute resolution solicitors in London can help you build your case and determine the damage caused by a defamatory statement. If you believe that you have been the victim of defamation, there are various ways in which you can make a claim…
What is Classed as Libel or Slander?
A statement that taints the reputation of another person, whether they are a public figure or not, is known as defamation. It lowers them in the “estimation of right-thinking members of society” and can affect them for years to come. Libel and slander are both examples of defamation but are presented in different mediums. A libellous statement is published and is in more permanent form, such as written or in print. Slander is also a published statement but is made orally or in another transient form.
No matter whether the statement is libel or slander, it must have caused serious harm to an individual’s reputation and it must be true. Statements that are factually accurate cannot usually be deemed as libel or slander. Section 1 of the Defamation Act 2013 states precisely what can be considered a defamatory statement, so it is important to seek expert legal advice before making a claim. From probate disputes to family law, we are civil litigation solicitors you can trust. To find out more about libel vs. slander and making a defamation claim, please visit us here.
Defences You Can Utilise
Filing a defamation lawsuit can be a difficult process for both the claimant and the defendant. If you find yourself accused of making a defamatory statement, there are various defences that you can use in order to throw the case out. However, you must be able to prove your defence, which can sometimes be difficult. Defences include, but are not limited to:
· the statement must be true in substance and in fact
· it is a fair comment in matters of public interest; for example, it is an opinion which anyone could hold with facts of the time
· the statement was made innocently by a party who took reasonable care and did not know or have reason to believe that the statement was defamatory. The individual who made the statement should also offer to “make amends.”
· there is absolute or qualified privilege attached. Absolute privilege refers to statements made in legal proceedings, or in publications that run contemporaneously with such proceedings. Qualified privilege applies to people in authority, such as politicians, who make statements that would usually be considered defamatory, but they are protected in instances such as in Parliament.
Court proceedings must be made within one year of a defamatory statement being made. Time is of the essence, so you should seek the assistance of a civil litigation solicitor as soon as possible.
A defamation case can be an upsetting and draining process, so both parties will usually want the claim settled sooner rather than later, without recourse to litigation. The Pre-Action Protocol applies to all cases in media and communication involving defamation, as well as other issues such as the misuse of private information and data protection. It enables parties to disclose information to each other early, to gain a better understanding and settle the case where possible, once the evidence has been evaluated by the parties respective legal representatives. If the case reaches court, the extent to which the protocol has been followed may be considered.
The protocol allows parties to evaluate how to proceed and can keep legal and court costs to a minimum. Alternative dispute resolution such as mediation is always preferred, as it can lower the time spent and the costs that parties will have to pay. Here at Van Eaton Solicitors, we understand the importance of settling claims efficiently and effectively, and we will always work to suit our client’s needs and preferences.
If you would like to make a defamation claim, or defend against one, please give us a call on 0208 769 6739. Alternatively, you can fill out our online form here. Slander vs. libel does not have to be a complicated affair; we’re here to help.