Mc Naught & Co

Did Joe get Hurt??


Joe was the Captain of his local rugby team and have been so for the past three years, but suddenly everything changed when a fellow team member had maliciously told a false story to a local newspaper reporter who often visits the team. This resulted in a meeting with the Rugby Club’s manager and Joe was stripped as Captain and kicked of the team. It was only after talking to a friend that Joe realized he was the victim of “Defamation of Character”.


So, what is Defamation of Character and in what ways can it occur?

Defamation of Character can be defined as a false statement someone makes about you, which they publish as a statement of fact, and which harms your personal and/or professional reputation.

There are basically two types of Defamation:

Libel – Which is the writing of false accusations against another person with the intent to harm “what the reporter wrote against Joe”; and

Slander – Which is verbally saying false accusations against someone with the intend to harm “What the team member told the reporter”.


In our law there are three areas that needs to be proved to win a defamation of character lawsuit:


Firstly, whatever was written or said against a person must be proved to be false, to prove that an accusation is false can be very challenging, but it can be done.


Secondly, It must be proven that the one who said or wrote the false accusations did so to intend harm – By proving that the accused intended harm can be more challenging an you need to have  clear and convincing evidence.

Thirdly, it must be proven that harm resulted to the victim of defamation of character.


So how can you defend yourself against such a claim?

There as some international standards you can use to defend yourself, however a court may not necessarily accept your arguments and they are:

  • If you can prove that the statement you have made is true, then the claim should fail.
  • You cannot be sued for defamation if someone has permitted the statement to be published.
  • Statements of opinion generally cannot support a valid cause for defamation.

To sum it all up, The person which is complaining that their reputation is being harmed I.e. the one who is accusing you of defamation, must prove that the statement harms their personal reputation and that is false and that you published it intentionally or negligently.


“Never try to destroy someone’s life with a lie when yours could be destroyed by the truth!”

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