What is defamation?
Defamation is when a statement or comment is published that has or is likely to cause harm to a person or business’s reputation.
What is needed to prove a defamation claim?
- A written publication that refers to you or your business
- Those words are capable of causing harm to your or your business’s reputation, or they already have
- The words cannot be proved as true and there is no other legal defence available (for example, honest opinion)
The test to establish whether a statement is defamatory is whether the content of the statement would make the right-thinking member of society lower their estimation of you. The Defamation Act 2013 also introduced a requirement that the statement is only defamatory if it has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to your reputation.
Who can bring a defamation claim?
An individual or a business can bring a defamation claim. A business that is trading for profit must be able to show they are likely to or have suffered a substantial financial loss as a result.
An unincorporated association or ‘club’ cannot bring a defamation claim. An individual member may be able to if they are capable of being identified on an individual basis from the publication being complained of.
A claim cannot be brought on behalf of a deceased person’s estate.
Local authorities and other government bodies cannot bring a claim for defamation.
Who can you sue for defamation?
The simple answer is anyone involved. This can include the author, any editor or the publisher, and anyone who helped or participated in the publication.
There are defences for website operators and those that share or repost someone else’s content where the original author could be sued instead.
How long do I have to make a claim for defamation?
1 year from the time that the comment/post//publication was made.
If the post is reshared, this will not restart the one year clock.
What remedies are available to me if I win my defamation claim?
- Public apology
- Correction of the statement/publication
- Damages (a financial award)
- An injunction (stopping future posts or publications/having posts/publications taken down)
Social Media and defamation claims
Most individuals and businesses use social media daily. From LinkedIn to Twitter to Facebook or Instagram, we have all heard of or used a social media platform.
Social media is so easy to access and so popular, and therefore it comes with its risks. It is so easy for people to post instantaneously about whatever they are thinking but not consider the potential effects or consequences of what they say. This has increased the risk of defamation for both individuals and businesses.
Posts on social media sites can spread far and wide and do not necessarily stay within a single community of people.
Having the ability to share or repost on many social media sites means that the damage an untruthful and misleading comment or post can devastate an individual or business’s reputation. It can even lead to financial losses for a business or risk of financial losses.
This is why you should consider legal action as early as possible to reduce the damage to your reputation by getting the post taken down, as quickly as possible.
You may also be able to claim financial compensation (known as damages) and receive a formal apology. We can help you consider all your available options.