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

The following TMT practice 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
  • Further reading
  • Responsibility for publication
  • Proof of publication
  • Proof of publication—slander
  • Serious harm
  • Limited publication
  • Publication on the internet
  • Responsibility for publication on the internet
  • More...

Defamation and malicious falsehood—publication

This Practice Note examines the role of publication in an action for defamation or malicious falsehood. It reviews key case law and legislation, and considers who may be primarily and secondarily responsible for publication, what constitutes publication, the nature of publication on the internet and jurisdictional issues.

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 (fifth edition, 2020) 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

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