What is defamation of character?
Defamation of character is when a false statement is made about a person or a business, and the defamatory statement is presented as fact rather than an honest opinion. For example, “Sarah stole money from me” could be defamation, whereas “Sarah is a horrible person” is not.
Defamation can be written or spoken language that:
- Detrimentally impacts somebody’s reputation in the eyes of others.
- Causes somebody to be avoided by others.
- Causes somebody to be subjected to verbal or written attacks or even violence.
You have not suffered defamation of character if you are the only person who knows about a false statement against you. A statement that has not been shared (published) cannot hurt your reputation, and it is only classed as defamation if others have heard or read the untrue statement or may hear or read it.
English libel laws mean that both individuals and companies can go to court to defend their reputations. Under the Defamation Act 2013, those bringing claims forward (Claimants) need to be able to show they have suffered or are likely to suffer “serious harm” to their reputation.
What is the difference between slander and libel?
Slander and libel are both types of defamation.