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Disputes and Litigation

Defamation of Character

Defamation of character can seriously impact your personal and professional reputation. If you are a victim of defamation of character or have been accused of sharing untrue information about a person or a company, our solicitors are here to help you.

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What is defamation of character?

Defamation of character is when a false statement is made about a person or a business, and the defamatory statement is presented as fact rather than an honest opinion. For example, “Sarah stole money from me” could be defamation, whereas “Sarah is a horrible person” is not.

Defamation can be written or spoken language that:

  • Detrimentally impacts somebody’s reputation in the eyes of others.
  • Causes somebody to be avoided by others.
  • Causes somebody to be subjected to verbal or written attacks or even violence.

You have not suffered defamation of character if you are the only person who knows about a false statement against you. A statement that has not been shared (published) cannot hurt your reputation, and it is only classed as defamation if others have heard or read the untrue statement or may hear or read it.

English libel laws mean that both individuals and companies can go to court to defend their reputations. Under the Defamation Act 2013, those bringing claims forward (Claimants) need to be able to show they have suffered or are likely to suffer “serious harm” to their reputation.

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What is the difference between slander and libel?

Slander and libel are both types of defamation.


Slander is when a false statement is spoken or where an untruth is conveyed in photographs or pictures. Sometimes it is not what is actually said but what is inferred by ‘reading between the lines’ that constitutes slander.


Libel refers to written falsehoods. For example, untruths published in emails, social media posts, books, newspapers and magazines.

What are the grounds for defamation of character?

The burden of proof is upon the Claimant.

To prove defamation, you need to establish that:

  • The statement made against you is not substantially true.
  • The statement was made knowingly or recklessly.
  • The statement was shared with others either verbally or in writing.
  • You are harmed by the false statement.

You also need to be able to identify who made the statement. Sometimes when comments are published on social media, it is difficult to discover the author as people make comments anonymously or hide behind false profiles.

What evidence do solicitors need to prove defamation?

Evidence that solicitors need to prove defamation could include:

  • Recorded evidence such as a recorded telephone message.
  • Oral or written testimonials from witnesses.
  • Documentary evidence such as emails or letters.
  • Demonstrative evidence. This could be a diary or a timeline recording events.

This list is not exhaustive. The type of evidence required will depend upon the nature of your case.

Defamation at work can have devastating consequences. It can lead to somebody losing their job, and it can damage their future career prospects.

A person can be defamed not only by words but by actions. For example, if somebody is escorted from a company’s premises in front of others, other employees could jump to the conclusion that they have committed a crime.

If you believe you have suffered defamation of character in the workplace, or you are an employer for who an employee has accused, please get in touch with our defamation lawyers for immediate advice.

If you have suffered defamation of character, you may be able to claim compensation. The amount of compensation awarded to you will reflect the distress and humiliation caused as well as the financial consequences.

The aim of compensation is to restore someone to the position they would have been in if defamation had not occurred. This means that if somebody had a poor reputation before the false statement, they are unlikely to be able to claim much if any, compensation.

Libel cases such as Barron v Collins (2017) and Triad Group Plc v Makar (2020) show how much compensation the Courts have awarded to date.

The compensation awarded was £300,000 in the case of Barron v Collins. Amounts awarded for defamation of character are generally lower than those associated with other compensation claims, such as personal injury, because reputations can often be restored by a published apology or the Judgment achieved at trial.

Damages of £60,000 were awarded in the case of Triad Group v Makar when allegations were published on Twitter that the Claimant was involved in criminal activities. In addition, another £65,000 was awarded to the Claimant because they also brought forward a harassment claim.

Contact a defamation lawyer

If you have suffered defamation of character or have been accused by somebody, please talk to our specialist defamation solicitors. We are experts in defamation law and have many years of experience in successfully resolving claims. Our team will work closely with you to settle your case as quickly as possible to protect your interests.

We can also advise you if you are unsure whether to publish information about a person or a company because it may bring a defamation claim.

Have any questions or need any help?

Our team of specialist lawyers are experts in their field. Be confident in their advice and decisions to help get the right outcome for you. Contact us today to see how we can help