Defamation in Tort

Defamation protects an individuals reputation. Slander refers to a malicious, false, and defamatory spoken statement or report (non- permanent), while libel refers to any other form of communication such as written words or images. (permanent) The fundamental distinction between libel and slander lies solely in the form in which the defamatory matter is published. If the offending material is published in some fleeting form, as by spoken words or sounds, sign language, gestures and the like, then this is slander.

Libel is actionable per say (without proof of actual harm) in itself whereas damages must be proven for slander. Libel may be prosecuted as a crime while slander may only be prosecuted as a tort. * To what extent is the media protected by qualified privilege when reporting on issues of public interest? It is not available if the statement complained of was made malice, which can mean with a bad motive or simply without an honest belief that the statement was true. * What impact has the human rights act1998 had on the law of defamation? (Defences to a claim of defamation include:

i. Justification (substantial truth) – a complete defence, not defeated by malice and which recognizes that a statement may damage reputation but also acknowledges that reputation cannot be upheld by concealing the truth; ii. Privilege – on account that dissemination of the information outweighs the protection of reputation when such information is in the public interest. Privilege comprises two distinct defences: a. Absolute privilege – for situations of utmost importance such as parliamentary proceedings, judicial proceedings, or for official state communications (executive privilege) and, b. qualified privilege – for communication of information in circumstances where there is a duty for the information to be given and received.

There are 2 types; Classic; In the public interest Reynolds; requires be 1 that has 2 be communicated because there is a public interest(created to protect the press) Created ten criteria for if it is a piece of responsible journalism this was modified by the case of Jameel v Wall Street journal iii. Fair comment (honest comment) – dealing with non-malicious statements of opinion commenting on facts that are in the public interest.) [look at the average fair minded person ].

The Human Rights Act 1998 (in effect 2 Oct 2000) now incorporates the majority of the Convention into domestic law. Section 2 obliges courts to ‘take into account’ and to interpret issues in accordance with the ECHR, s. 4 allows the courts to make a Declaration of Incompatibility, while s. 6 addresses acts of public authorities and s. 12 addressed freedom of expression with specific provisions against undue restrains on the media rights to publication.

(Article 10 of ECHR states that everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises. ) See section 4 of the theatre act 1964 4 instances which a slander is actionable per say: * Allegation that one is suffering from an infectious disease * Allegations of adultery.

* Allegations of incompetence in ones professional calling * Allegation of a criminal offence that is punishable with imprisonment. In defamation juries are used and to prove it you need: * The meaning of the word is defamatory(some statements are defamatory per say while some statements are absolutely innocent[innuendo]popular innuendo is found by reading in between the line of the defamatory statements and there are true innuendos where the defamatory statements are proven by looking at extrinsic materials) see the case of Cassidy. N. B.

The judge has to decide that the statement was a defamatory act * The statement must be communicated to a third party (publication) [if it was reasonably foreseeable that the alleged statement may be published then the defendant will be liable] * Reference to the claimant (Holton v jones, case of O’shen, human rights act: freedom of expression) * Harm must be suffered in terms PROBLEM QUESTION.