What is Defamation in tort?

Defamation is the oral or written communication of a false statement about another that unjustly harms their reputation and usually constitutes a tort or a crime.

Such a statement constitutes a ‘libel‘ if it is:

  • published (publication, for these purposes, is simply the communication of the defamatory matter to a third person); and
  • in writing, print or some other permanent form.

A statement will amount to a ‘slander‘ if it is:

  • published; and
  • made orally or in some other transient form.

An action for defamation can be brought by an individual or a company, in respect of statements that damage its business reputation. An action for defamation however cannot be brought by a Local Authority nor by any other public authority.

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