Defamation can arise when a false statement is made against someone that damages their reputation and causes distress or financial loss. With technology now at our fingertips. Defamation could occur within a split second, thanks to the internet and social media.
Defamatory statements can be very distressing and extremely embarrassing, and the resulting damage to a person’s reputation can affect livelihood, income and employment opportunities.
At Stirling Ackroyd Legal, our litigation solicitors can provide straightforward advice and robust representation to secure the compensation that you deserve if you have been affected by defamatory remarks made by somebody else.
How does it arise?
Defamation could arise if someone publishes a statement about you to one or more others that will have a negative effect on their opinion of you. In order to pursue a claim for defamation, it must be shown that this statement has seriously harmed your reputation or is very likely to do so; and it is down to the claimant to prove this.
Slander or Libel: What is the difference?
There are two kinds of defamatory statement: slander, meaning that the statement was spoken, or libel, meaning it was written, including in newspapers, magazines, within an email or on social media. If this has happened to you, you may be entitled to compensation, known as damages, and an injunction may be granted to prevent it from happening again.
Timeframes to bring your claim
You will usually be required to bring your claim within one year from the date that the statement was made or published. If there has been damage to your reputation that has resulted in financial loss, you will be expected to bring the action as quickly as possible.
Defences in defamation cases
There are a number of exceptions and legal defences in defamation law, and every case is different, however in deciding whether or not to pursue a claim for defamation, it is important to consider the following:
- There may be a defence against an action for defamation if the statement involved a ‘matter of public interest’
- Certain statements are considered to be ‘privileged’ and cannot be the subject of an action for defamation. ‘Absolute privilege’ means statements made in parliament or in court, and these will be protected even if they are completely untrue
- Could the statement be true? The truth can be a defence in defamation cases, although when an action is brought it is generally presumed that the statement was false unless the defendant is able to show otherwise
- Was the statement an ‘honest comment’? This can apply if someone has honestly expressed an opinion. The defendant must really have held this opinion, although it could be difficult to prove otherwise. Their opinion would also need to be factual in nature or privileged, so this can be a complex defence and its success will depend on the evidence
It is important to note that lack of intention is not in itself a defence against an action for defamation. This means that if you defame someone accidentally, you may still be liable if no other defence applies.
If you do not know or you cannot be certain of the identity of the person who has made the defamatory statement, for example, if this occurred online in an anonymous comment, this will not necessarily prevent you from bringing your claim. Your specialist litigation solicitor may be able to obtain a disclosure order to access this information.
Your specialist litigation solicitor at Stirling Ackroyd Legal is always on your side, and we will fight on your behalf for the compensation that you deserve. There are several remedies that the court can apply in defamation cases:
- You may be awarded damages, i.e. financial compensation for the damage to your reputation and for the distress that this has caused to you
- An injunction may be granted to prevent the defendant from defaming you again
- The defendant may be ordered to pay your legal costs
We will push for the right result for you
In practice, your case may be settled before it reaches the courts, and your specialist litigation solicitor will negotiate on your behalf towards reaching the right settlement for what you have been through. Whatever the circumstances, please contact us, and we will be very happy to help you.
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