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Defences To Defamation Notes

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Defences to defamation Justification (or Truth)

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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

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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)

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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:

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Fair comment requires only the basic facts to be true

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

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

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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

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1. Stolen presents from children's home

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

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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

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

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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

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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

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

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Has three requirements:

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