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9.1 Defamation, Libel, Slander and Defences - Introduction

Welcome to the first lesson of the ninth topic in this module guide - Defamation, Libel, Slander and Defences! People have an interest in their reputations. Likewise, there is a public interest in the freedom of speech. The tort of defamation attempts to strike a balance in this regard; preventing the publishing of an untrue statement which negatively affects someone’s reputation. There are different types of defamation, and defences to them, and so a comprehensive understanding here is necessary to tackle any problem question here.

At the end of this section, you should be comfortable dealing with defamation, understanding its basic definition as either libel or slander. You will understand the various elements necessary to establish a successful claim in defamation, and also whether any applicable defences could arise.

The section begins by discussing the nature of defamation and the aims of the Defamation Act 2013, a new piece of legislation which aims to consolidate the case law in this area. It discusses libel and slander in turn, and then discusses the individual elements of the tort itself. There is then a comprehensive breakdown of various defences to defamation, before the section concludes with a number of further notes about the nature of the tort.

Goals for this section:

  • To be able to apply the legislation and statute pertaining to the tort of defamation to a range of potential factual scenarios.

Objectives for this section:

  • To understand the basic definition of defamation and the aims behind the law governing this tort. 
  • To be able to state and apply the four basic requisite elements of defamation.
  • To know the various defences to the tort of defamation, and whether they arise in a range of factual scenarios.
  • To be able to apply these rules to a range of different problem scenarios, understanding the rules and peculiar aspects of the tort of defamation.

Start the Lecture

We have three lengths of lecture to suit varying study needs. Select one of the options below to get started (if you have already chosen a study level you will see the option highlighted in violet):

Summary Notes Standard Lecture Detailed Lecture

Problem Questions

Each lecture is also accompanied by hands on examples of problem questions for the subject. You can jump directly to the questions below:

Hands on Examples