The Rise of Defamation in the Online Era

Working in the Commercial team I deal with a number of contentious issues, one of which is defamation.

For those of you who don't already know, defamation is the publication of a statement that reflects badly on a person's reputation and lowers others' opinions of them. There are two types of defamation: slander and libel.

Slander is a term that covers spoken words or gestures.

Libel is a term that covers 'permanent' publications such as written allegations in newspapers and on websites.

A defamatory statement is one which:

  • lowers you in the estimation of right-thinking members of society
  • disparages you in your business, trade, office or profession
  • exposes you to hatred, ridicule or contempt
  • causes you to be shunned or avoided

In this new era of online interaction and with the majority of people now having an online account on one of the many social networks, it is important to bare issues regarding defamation in mind.

There are an increasing number of cases in the legal industry where businesses/individuals are taking legal action about defamatory statements made online. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are considered to be particular hotbeds for defamatory statements being made about others.

Defamation laws apply equally online as they do to other forms of written and oral communication. Thus, if a statement made via the internet is defamatory in nature, identifies the individual it is made about and is available for the public to view then it may be classed as defamation.

It is therefore extremely important to consider what you are saying online as you do not want to end up with a defamation case being filed against you!

Click here to visit Hattons Defamation main website section

Written by Andrew Bailey- Trainee Legal Executive

If you have a defamation issue or need legal advice please call our Dispute Resolution team on 08000 111 303 or visit our website


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