Malicious falsehood
Produced in partnership with 5RB

The following TMT practice note produced in partnership with 5RB provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Malicious falsehood
  • Statement must refer to the claimant
  • Publication
  • Falsity
  • Malice
  • Limitation and survival
  • The meaning of published statements in malicious falsehood
  • Pecuniary loss
  • Defences
  • Interim injunctions
  • More...

Malicious falsehood

This Practice Note provides an introduction to the tort of malicious falsehood. Unlike a claim for defamation, there is no requirement in a claim for malicious falsehood to prove that the statement complained of is defamatory. Instead, the claimant must prove that: the defendant has published a statement that is untrue; the statement was published maliciously; and, the statement has caused actual pecuniary damage, or falls within the provisions of section 3 of the Defamation Act 1952 (DA 1952).

The tort of malicious falsehood is governed by a mixture of statute and, largely, common law. The relevant statutory law is contained in the DA 1952. The Defamation Act 2013 (DA 2013) contains no provisions reforming the law of malicious falsehood.

Malicious or injurious falsehood (sometimes referred to confusingly as 'trade libel') is not concerned with reputation. It is a separate tort to defamation, which is concerned with the publication of falsehoods which cause or are likely to cause financial damage. Unlike establishing a cause of action in defamation, it is not necessary to show that any statement complained of is defamatory.

To succeed in a claim for malicious falsehood the claimant must prove that the defendant has published statements which are false and has done so maliciously (ie for this purpose, dishonestly), and that publication of the falsehoods has caused the claimant to suffer actual financial

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