What are libel and slander?
Posted on 1st August 2019
Libel and slander are forms of defamation in English law.
Libel is the publication of a defamatory statement in permanent form (for example, in an email, tweet, text, online review, Facebook posting or news article).
Slander is concerned with the spoken word, conduct or other non-permanent expression.
A statement will be defamatory in English law if it is:-
(a) published to a person other than the victim,
(b) identifies the victim and
(c) lowers the reputation of the victim in the estimation of right-thinking members of society.
Solicitors who deal with personal injury note that Libel is actionable ‘on the face of it’ which means that so long as you can prove you have been defamed, you will automatically be able to claim at least nominal damages for injury to your feelings and distress caused by the libellous statement. However, due to changes brought about by the Defamation Act 2013, in order to establish a cause of action for defamation, you (as the victim) have to be able to prove on balance of probabilities that the publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to your reputation.
If you dredge your mind back to 2011 (I know you may be struggling to remember what you had for breakfast yesterday, so bear with me and I’ll give you some context) back then you may remember being BOMBARDED with news about a phone hacking scandal. The scandal was uncovered after the News of the World published a story about Prince William's treatment for an injury, based on the story published, the information held by the News International Journalists could only have come as a result of a journalist listening to the prince's voicemails. The ensuing police investigation, which uncovered "a vast number" of other victims, would begin the saga that led to the conviction of Coulson, the closure of a newspaper bought by millions every week and moves to change the way newspapers are regulated.
MG Legal, personal injury solicitors Preston, recognise that a number of prominent Britons and celebrities were found to have had their phones hacked in a gross violation of privacy. Heather Mills was one of the celebrities whose phone was hacked following her high-profile divorce from Sir Paul McCartney in 2008. So why are we still taking about it?
Well; at the beginning of this month Heather Mills spoke outside High Court revealing that she and 90 others will receive substantial pay-outs stating that “we have just been awarded the highest media liable settlement in British legal history”. Heather Mills went on to reveal that she was to receive a complete and unmitigated apology. A representative of the tabloid said it apologised to the Mills sisters for “the distress caused to them by the invasion of their privacy by individuals working for or on behalf of the News of the World.”
The size of what was called a “substantial settlement” has not been revealed.
If you have any queries or concerns regarding libel or slander, please contact MG Legal, your local solicitors, via firstname.lastname@example.org or via 01995 602 129.
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