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Defences To Defamation Notes

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Defences to defamation Justification (or Truth)

Is valid defence to show that defamatory statements are substantially true o Defamatory statements presumed to be untrue
? Unless D raises evidence to rebut this presumption o C has not right to complain about true statements that harm his reputation
? By publishing truth

D is merely ensuring C's reputation is lowered to the appropriate level. o Is irrelevant whether statement published out of malice or not
? Although exception to this is Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 s.8(5)

Where C complains that D has published information about C's spent convictions o Then D cannot rely on the defence of justification if publication due to malice. o London Artists v Littler [1969]:
? Lord Denning:

Fair comment requires only the basic facts to be true

Those relying on Justification must also prove that comments and inferences drawn from facts are true as well.

Defamation Act 1952 s.5 o Justification defence won't fail
? by reason only that the truth of every charge is not proved

if the words not proved to be true don't injure the reputation further than the charges are true.
? E.g. D claims C has


1. Stolen presents from children's home


2. Written on the wall that Santa doesn't exist


3. Has spelt Santa wrong o If D can prove the truth of the more serious charges (1 and 2)
? Then fact he can't prove 3 is irrelevant

Because it would not materially affect C's reputation by not being true when concerned with the truth of the more serious allegations.

Tools that D can employ to prove the charge are: o "Common sting"
? D can use the evidence of similar activities to the one C has been accused of to show that his allegations have some grounding

Although C can just sue on a specific matter o In which case, D cannot raise common sting. o Civil Evidence Act 1968 s.13
? Where criminal offence alleged, D only needs to prove conviction, not whether conviction right or not. Fair Comment

Here D does not have to show truth o But that D has exercised his right to criticise C

Has three requirements:

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