What is defamation?

Defamation is an untrue statement about a person that damages the person’s reputation. The communication must be made to other people, not just to the person it’s about.

However, the law will not protect you from an insult or a statement that may hurt your feelings. So, if someone calls you fat and ugly your feelings may be hurt but its probably not enough to sue. The law protects your reputation against defamation. If someone defames you by saying that you rob your customers or cheat on charities when this is, in fact, not true, you can sue the person for money to compensate you for your damaged reputation.

There are two types of defamation: Libel and Slander.

Llibel is defamation that has a permanent record, like an Email, newspaper article, a picture, a radio or TV broadcast or a letter.

Slander is defamation that has no permanent record. Normally it’s a verbal statement.

Sometimes, even a good case on the facts may not win at trial because the courts must balance other rights, such as free speech.

So, if you want to always play it safe, remember what mamma used to say: “If you don’t have something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.”