Defamation—practical aspects
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—practical aspects
  • Defamation Act 2013
  • Further reading
  • Was the statement defamatory and did it identify the claimant?
  • Is it libel or slander and why does it matter?
  • Who can be sued?
  • The capacity to sue
  • Has the time limit expired?
  • Can the client afford to bring or defend a claim?
  • Interim relief
  • More...

Defamation—practical aspects

Defamation Act 2013

Before the implementation of the Defamation Act 2013 (DA 2013), defamation actions acquired a reputation for technicality and disproportionate expense, largely because of the central focus on the meaning of defamatory statements. The government reacted to a groundswell of adverse media comment that English defamation law was too claimant-friendly by enacting DA 2013, which introduced a number of reforms making defamation a tortious action based equally on common law and statute, and abolished several common law defences through codification.

Further reading

You may wish to refer to Duncan and Neill on Defamation (fifth edition, 2020) available subject to subscription.

Was the statement defamatory and did it identify the claimant?

At common law, a defamatory statement is defined as one that is published to a third party and would tend to lower the subject in the estimation of right thinking members of society. This should be assessed through the eyes of the hypothetical, reasonable person who will reflect current attitudes. There are some statements, for example, that the claimant is dishonest, which will always be defamatory. To this has been added a statutory threshold requirement under DA 2013, s 1 that a statement is not defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant, or, in the case of a body that trades for profit

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