Defamation is also known as vilification, calumny and traducement. Defamation is any false statement which causes harm. This statement can be about any person, organization, business, religion, country or a product.
It can also be disapproving statement made by a person for another person, whether true or false depending upon the legal state.
Defamation is ruining or harming ones reputation. Defamation is a statement that is meant to blacken a business or a person’s name and reputation.
A person who defames another may be called a libeler, defamer, famacide or slanderer.
WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF A DEFAMATION CLAIM?
The elements that must be proved are:
• A false statement. That is the statement which has been said about another person must be false.
• Tending to harm another person’s reputation. The person to whom the statement is referred to should be harmed by the statement. The statement should be damaging to the plaintiff. In some countries it is necessary to establish that the defamed has suffered mental anguish.
• A publication to another person than the person defamed. The statement must be given or published to a third party, that is not to the person who has been defamed. The statement either in printed form or verbal must be given or made available to a third person.
• If the statement is of public concern, then the person who has published it must be liable in negligence. Public figures who wish to prove that they have been defamed must prove an additional element. This can be proved under the First Amendment of the US Constitution. That when publishing the statement, the defendant was acting with actual malice. That is they were already aware that the statement was false and not true, or at least they had a total disregard for whether the statement was true or not.
• Dispute another’s honesty or integrity.
WHAT IS A DEFAMATORY STATEMENT
A defamatory statement is a false statement of fact that exposes a person to ridicule, humility, hatred or contempt. A statement that causes a person to be shunned, or injures him in his business or trade. Statements that are only offensive are not defamatory. For example a statement that Maria smells badly cannot be taken as a defamatory sentence. This statement is merely based on opinions as it cannot be proven whether it is true or false. The court keeps this aspect in mind when given a case of defamatory.
The court has to determine whether the statement has been an opinion statement, that it is based on one person’s opinion about another or whether the statement is factual assertion.
DEFAMATION PER SE
These types of statements are assumed to harm a person’s reputation. That is there is no need to farther prove their harm. These defamation statements are intrinsically damaging. There is no need to establish if there was any harm or damage done to the plaintiff.
There are four categories to defamation per se:
• Accusing someone of a crime. That is a person was involved in a criminal activity.
• Imputing serious sexual misconduct. That is a person was unchaste and involved in sexual harassment and misconduct.
• Casting adverse comment on someone’s ability to conduct business. That is a person was not handling the business as he should. He was involved in an incompatible behavior that was against the rules or policies.
• That someone has a disease. The person has contagious disease or infection. For example a sexually transmitted disease or mental or any psychological illness.
• With the exception of five states, Arkansas, Arizona, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee, All states in the US consider these categories to be defamatory per se.
TYPES OF DEFAMATION
Libel is defined as defamation by printed words, written words, that is, in black and white. Libel defamation can also be done through pictures or in any form other than by spoken words or gestures. Defamation is in a permanent form. This defamation is usually visible to the eye.
These kinds of written defamation are done through:
• Comments on blogs post.
• Letter to the editor of a newspaper. Usually you will not be able to see the letters as the newspapers don’t publish these kinds of letters.
• Public comments on media such as websites, social networking sites.
• List servers and internet chat rooms.
The law of libel originated in the 17th century in England. This law states that if anyone has been the subject to defamation, there should be damage afflicted to that person. That is the statement should cause damage or humility to the plaintiff. Libel is per se. which means the defamed will not have to prove any damage which will be calculable as a specific sum of money.
In some cases, a plaintiff can be libel proof. That is she or he already has a reputation so tarnished that any more humility or damaging statement cannot further harm him or her. Whether that statement is true or false that person may not be affected by it due to his already bad reputation.
As a matter of law, in most jurisdictions a dead person cannot be defamed. As a dead person has no legally protected reputation, he cannot be affected by the false statements and be defamed.
A statement that disparages a company’s or business’s services or goods is called trade libel. That is if you cannot damage or ruin a company’s name or reputation, you can damage the company’s products or services, by giving false statements regarding a product of a company or giving out statements that a company’s services were not reliable and were at fault.
Slander is an oral or spoken statement. This statement is in a transients and temporary form. Slander statement is an unprivileged and false publication. This statement can be done via radio, television or any other mechanical means.
ELEMENTS OF SLANDER
• Harm. Injury or damage to ones reputation or name. These damages can be punitive, special or actual.
• False. The statement must be false. For it is not defamation if the statement is true which a defense for defamation is.
• Identification. Which means the identity or name of the person is not necessary.
• Fault. These include public figures and private citizen plaintiff.
The distinction between slander and libel only lies in the form in which the defamatory statement is published. What medium has been used. Whether the statement was given orally or was given in black and white.
ONLINE DEFAMATION LAW
Nowadays it is easy to make a defamatory statement. That is because of the rise of social media. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook allow you to publish a statement instantly. These statements then reach thousands of people instantly. However these statements on facebook and twitter are treated same as they would any oral or written statement.
You should be careful when writing in these platforms. Any status regarding an opinion about the person can also be considered as defamation. You can be sued by the person you have written about. However if you do want to post online, you should have all your facts and figures straight.
If you think that you have been defamed via a social network or online, you should immediately contact an attorney who is qualified for this sort of online defamation. You should then discuss all the legal options and decide the best course of action for the defamation statement.
ZARDARI AND SADRUDDIN HASHWANI CASE
President Asif Ali Zardari had served a legal notice to Sadruddin Hashwani for publishing derogatory, vexatious and false publication of blatant lies in his book, The Truth Always Prevails. The owner of Marriot and Pearl Continental, Hashwani was fined rs.1 million for damaging Zardaris reputation and causing him torture and agony.
DEFAMATION OF A CHARACTER AND ITS HARM
Defamation of a character occurs when a person has given out false statements which causes damage and blackens a plaintiffs name or business. The published statements can be oral or written.
HARM AND DAMAGE
• Harm to ones name.
• Harm to reputation.
• Harm to ones business.
• Financial harm.
• Physical or mental illness.
• Economic damage.
• Non economic damage.
METHODS TO PROVE
You can establish a claim for defamation once you have proven that a person has made false statements about you. You should prove where the deformer has published the statements and to whom and what harm and damage has been done to you after that person’s statement. However if you are a public figure and are defamed regularly it is essential to prove that the recent statement has in fact caused you harm and damage.
In order to prove that the statement is false you need to provide evidence and witnesses. For mental anguish you need to present your doctor to court who will then testify about your condition and treatment.
DEFENSE TO DEFAMATION
A defamer in a case may raise varieties of defenses. These defenses can either be slander or libel. The common defenses are as following:
• Statement of Opinion.
• Absolute privilege.
• Qualified privilege.
• Retraction of the defamatory statement.