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Law Notes Aspects Of Obligations Notes

Defamation Notes

Updated Defamation Notes

Aspects Of Obligations Notes

Aspects Of Obligations

Approximately 333 pages

Aspects Of Obligations notes fully updated for recent exams in the UK. These notes cover all the major LLB aspects cases and so are perfect for anyone doing an LLB in the UK or a great supplement for those doing LLBs abroad, whether that be in Ireland, Canada, Hong Kong or Malaysia (University of London).

These notes were formed directly from a reading of the cases and main texts and are vigorous, concise and very well written. Everything is conveniently split up by topic as you can see by th...

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Basis: reputations shouldn't be damaged by untrue facts

Has constitutional flavour - freedom of press/expression (Art 10) v right to private life (Art 8)

More legislation has emerged owing to public interest

Basic definition: publication of a statement by D referring to C that would tend to lower C’s reputation in eyes of society - Sim v Stretch

Prima facie strict liability but there are defences - but reverse burden (on D)

Libel v slander

Libel: publication of defamatory statement in permanent form

Slander: spoken word/conduct/non-permanent expression

s.166 Broadcasting Act 90 broadcast words = libel, same for theatre s.4 Theatres Act 68

Both subject to requirement of ‘serious harm’ (below) but slander actionable per se in certain circumstances - normally subject to ‘special damage’ requirement

Special damages: loss of money/benefit estimable in money

s.2 Defamation Act 1952 no need to allege any special damage where words at the time of publication (whether or not spoken in the way of this business etc)

but must prove ‘special damage’ where statement conveys implication that person has contagious /infectious disease - s.14(2) DA 2013s

s.14(1) means no longer actionable per se to say a woman is unchaste

It is actionable per se to allege a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment

who can bring an action?

Derbyshire CC v The Times HL: public authorities can’t sue as matter of common law so that individuals are free to criticise the government (though politicians/ministers can still sue)

Goldsmith v Boyruhl: bar extends to political parties

Jameel v WSJ No3: Lord Bingham companies can sue as their reputations are of value to them

But Hale noted increasingly hard to distinguish governmental & non-governmental because of immense power


  1. Publication:

  • Must be published/said to a 3rd party (not just C)

  • Huth v Huth butler read private letter but intended to be private thus no publication

  • Bryne v Deane shows how broad - notice on wall - D in charge of notices so hd authority to remove it - implied consent - thus party to it and liable

  • Pullman v Hill negligent publication suffices

  • Exceptions: communications between spouses & typists (Weenback v Morgan)

  1. Re-publication?

  • Slipper v BBC BBC broadcast picked up by other media outlets - BBC said liability limited to their initial audience - CA said no - full!

  • Defamatory statements objectionable not least because of propensity to percolate/contaminate

  • McManus v Beckham B said shopkeeper should be ashamed for selling fakes - picked up by media - CA said liable if should have been aware of considerable risk of re-publication

  1. Internet

  • Raises questions about who is a publisher etc

  • Godfrey v Demon Internet 01: D = internet service provider - G said defamed by article on page hosted by D - court said simply hosting isn’t publication but once informed by G did become publishers

  • Bunt v Tilley 07: internet service provider unaware of statement thus not publication

  • Met International Schools v Designtechnica 11: C’s name in google search linked to defamatory comments - held not publication - automatic search google merely facilitated & too difficult to remove everything

  • Tamiz v I Inc 13 defamatory blog hosted by google - CA said yes publishers - had sufficient control - once had knowledge could have easily removed

  • S.5 DA 2013 (Operators of Websites) defence for website operators show it was not them who posted statement but it will fail if impossible show who posted it, C gave operator notice & operator failed respond

  1. Publication ‘defences’

  • s.1 DA 96 publishers who aren't authors, editors, or commercial publishers have defence if took reasonable care in publication, and didn't know or have reason to believe that what he did caused of contributed to publication of statement

  • s.10 DA 13 no jurisdiction to hear actions against those who aren't author, editor or publisher unless court satisfied is not reasonably practicable for author, editor or publisher be sued

  • s.2 DA 96 offer to publish apology & pay damages if accepted will end the action, if not accepted one has defence they had no reason to believe statement was false/defamatory

  1. Defamatory:


  • Single meaning rule! Charleston v News Group court required determine single meaning conveyed to notional reasonable reader, proceeding on assumption this was the one sense in which all reasonable readers understood it

  • Jeynes v News Group: Lord Clarke MR guides single meaning rule… that which would be conveyed to the reasonable person, who is taken as representative of those who would read the publication, who is not naive but not unduly suspicious, who doesn’t necessarily interpret words as would a lawyer & can engage in loose thinking (is an objective test)

  • Charleston: meaning has to be read in its context, reasonable reader is taken to read the entirety of article - here pics of celebrities superimposed into pornographic poses, article made clear was faked

  • McAlpine v Bercow 13: rumours of conservative pedo *innocent face* at end of tweet had clear defamatory implication but not genuinely asking the question as argued, reasonable Twitter user understood it as ironic

    What is a defamatory statement?

  • Parmiter v Coupland: a publication calculated to expose one to hatred, contempt or ridicule or

  • Sim v Stretch: lowering one’s estimation in right thinking members of society generally

  • Tolley v Fry: advert with amateur golfer’s image suggested he was paid, taking sponsorship not allowed

  • Yousoupoff v MGN: Defamatory if statement causes one to be shunned/avoided in society (film suggested Russian Princess was raped)

  • Byrne v Deane: grassing on someone not libellous - might lower reputation in criminal fraternity but not ordinary society

  • Bob Crow v Boris Johnson: J campaigned by saying if didn’t vote for him you get several negatives ‘… and Bob Crow’ - not defamatory - in context of election anyone would just read as partisan and no more = no taint on...

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