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Legal Definition of Defamation

Legal Definition of Defamation


Defamation is a legal term that refers to any statement made with the intent to harm another person’s reputation or character. Defamation can take many forms, including verbal or written statements, gestures, or even pictures. In this article, we will take a closer look at the legal definition of defamation and what it encompasses.

Understanding Defamation

Defamation is a civil offense in which a person or organization is accused of intentionally making a false statement or representation that harms another person’s reputation. Defamation is usually broken down into two categories: libel and slander.

Libel: This type of defamation refers to a false statement that is written, published, or broadcast. Examples of libel include misleading or false newspaper articles, unreadable social media posts, or YouTube videos.

Slander: Slander refers to verbal or spoken defamation. Examples of slander include spreading false rumors, making inaccurate statements about a person’s character at a public gathering, or fabricating negative news about someone.

Legal Elements of Defamation

To win a defamation case, several legal elements have to be proved, including the following:

– The defendant has made a false statement about the plaintiff.

– The statement has been published or communicated with at least one other person.

– The plaintiff is identifiable and can demonstrate that the statement was about them.

– The statement had a damaging effect on the plaintiff’s reputation, either social or financial.

– The false statement is not related to an issue of public concern or is not privileged.

Defenses for Defamation

A defendant may use several defenses available to them when accused of defamation. Common defenses include:

1. Truth: The statement made was true, and therefore, it cannot be considered defamatory.

2. Privilege: Absence of malice defense can be used if the statement was made under absolute privilege or qualified privilege.

3. Opinion: The statement relied upon was not a statement of fact but an opinion that could not possibly be proven true or false.

4. Consent: The plaintiff consented to the statement being made.

Damages in Defamation Cases

If a plaintiff can successfully prove that the defendant’s statement was defamatory, the court may order the defendant to pay damages to the plaintiff. Such damages may include financial losses, damage to reputation, and emotional distress. Depending on the jurisdiction, damages can sometimes be significant, which is why it’s essential for anyone accused of defamation to consult with an experienced attorney.


Defamation is a serious civil offense that should not be taken lightly. If you believe that your reputation has been damaged by a false statement made by someone else, it’s essential to understand the legal definition of defamation and what the legal requirements are. An experienced defamation attorney can help guide you through the process and work towards getting you just compensation.

There are several defamation terms, including slander and liable. However, in some cases, there is no need to determine whether an incident involved slander or liable specifically and instead, the courts refer to defamation terms. A defamation term may come into play during a civil trial.

For example, a defamation term may have been used to bring a civil cases against an individual or entity in cases where an individuals reputation was harmed by another individual or entity. Defamation of charterer for example, can include more specif charges. It may for example, be alleged that an individual distributed materials that were harmful to the reputation of another individual or entity. Those materials may be included under specific terms such as slander or liable, or the more broad defamation term.

Civil laws has more information about defamation.