What is the defamation rule?

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Produced in partnership with 5RB
Published on LexisPSL on 18/07/2018

The following TMT Q&A produced in partnership with 5RB provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What is the defamation rule?

What is the defamation rule?

The defamation rule is a rule of law which affects the availability of the grant of interim injunctive relief where there has been an attempt to circumvent the restrictions which apply to such applications in defamation by relying on alternative causes of action where the nub of the complaint is really damage to reputation.

In principle, an injunction is available in the law of defamation as in all cases where it is just and convenient to grant one. The jurisdiction will exist in defamation and malicious falsehood where there has been or threatens to be a publication of a statement which is false and is either defamatory, or gives rise to a claim in malicious falsehood. See Practice Note: Malicious falsehood.

However, the availability of interim injunctions in defamation in particular is circumscribed by a number of requirements found in longstanding authorities which make the form of relief difficult to obtain in this area of law.

Firstly, the nature of the jurisdiction is a delicate and sensitive one. In order to protect free speech it is to be exercised in only the clearest cases which meet the following requirements (see Coulson v Coulson [1887] 3 TLR 846 (not reported by LexisNexis®)):

  1. there has been publication of a statement which is unarguably defamatory of the claimant

  2. there are no grounds for concluding the statement

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