Defamation and malicious falsehood—publication
Produced in partnership with 5RB
Defamation and malicious falsehood—publication

The following Dispute Resolution guidance note Produced in partnership with 5RB provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Defamation and malicious falsehood—publication
  • Publication as an ingredient of the tort of defamation
  • Responsibility for publication
  • Proof of publication
  • Proof of publication—slander
  • Substantial publication
  • Publication on the internet
  • Responsibility for publication on the internet
  • Publication—jurisdictional issues
  • Republication
  • more

Publication as an ingredient of the tort of defamation

It is an essential ingredient of an action for libel or slander that there has been communication of a defamatory statement to a person other than the claimant.

For a written publication to occur, the words in question must be read and understood by a third party.

For an oral publication to occur, the words must be apprehended and understood by a third party.

In practice a claimant brings one action in relation to multiple publications. Each communication is, in principle, a separate and distinct publication giving rise to a separate cause of action although section 8 of the Defamation Act 2013 (DA 2013) has moderated this principle for the purposes of the limitation of the action (see below).

Further reading

You may wish to refer to Duncan and Neill on Defamation (fourth edition, 2015) available subject to a Lexis®Library subscription.

Responsibility for publication

At common law, anyone who involves themselves in the communication of a defamatory statement may, in principle, be liable for that publication. Potential defendants include:

  1. the author

  2. the editor

  3. the commercial publisher

  4. the proprietor of the publication medium

  5. the printer

  6. any person who causes a publication but is not its author

The following principles are relevant to the issue of responsibility for publication:

  1. those taking subordinate or 'secondary' roles