What Are The Defences Available Against Defamation Charge?


Defamation as a term is the oral or written correspondence of a bogus proclamation about another that shamefully hurts their notoriety and as a rule establishes a tort or wrongdoing. In a few nations, including South Korea and Sweden, just as the U.S. province of Louisiana, conveying a genuine explanation can likewise be viewed as slander or more precisely defamation. Under precedent-based law, to comprise slander, a case should by and large be bogus and more likely than not been made to somebody other than the individual maligned. Some custom-based law locales additionally recognize spoken maligning, called criticism, and slander in other media, for example, printed words or pictures called defamation. An individual who stigmatizes another might be known as a “defamer”, “libeler”, “slanderer” or a “famacide”. The term defamation is gotten from the Latin libellus.

Types of Defamation


Criticism or defamation in broad terms is utilized globally, and is highlighted in the article where it isn’t important to recognize “Libel” and “slander”. Both the types of defamation are required to be published. The crucial differentiation among slander and libel lies exclusively in the structure wherein the abusive issue is distributed. In the event that the culpable material is distributed in some brief structure, as by expressed words or sounds, communication via gestures, signals or something like that, at that point it comes under the category of slander. Slander is a kind of defamation that is spoken out loud to the right-minded people against someone. It can be a statement made to one person only that causes injury, or to a hundred people over a loudspeaker. As long as it meets the defamation requirements, a statement can be slanderous.


Libel is characterized as defamation comprising of printed words, pictures, or in any structure by some other means than verbally expressed words or gestures. Libel is nothing but defaming through the means of expression which demeans the impression of an individual in front of the society. This under defamation, is a common claim for bogus articulations of reality about an individual imparted to others in a written or other lasting structures. This includes messages, websites, tweets, writings, paper articles, TV or radio stations, video cuts transferred to the web or manually written letters.

Defences against defamation charges

Justification– The first and ultimate defence to defamation is that of justification. It is generally a defence used by a publisher of a defamatory statement to prove that the given defamatory statement is true or that the defamatory imputations of the material are substantially true. This means that whatever has been published is an absolute truth. Unlike other defence the issue of animosity or bad intent is irrelevant as truth is a complete defence.

Absolute privilege– This is a sort of privilege which is granted to the defendant to use in some special occasions or instances or some particular circumstances.

  • Statements made in parliamentary proceedings
  • Statements made during judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings
  • Statements that are protected by statutes.
  • Fair and accurate reports of Parliamentary and judicial proceedings published.
  • occasions where absolute privilege is extended for public policy reasons.

The provisions and defence of absolute privilege can not be defeated by proof of malignity. With regard to what is considered contemporaneous if it is included within a newspaper or magazine then as long as it is published as soon as possible after the statements are made. Explanations made in court by witnesses, lawyers, or judges and proclamations made during numerous administration procedures are normally viewed as favored and can’t be dependent upon maligning claims.

Qualified privilege– Qualified privilege is another normal barrier to a defamation action. In some cases, regardless of whether an announcement isn’t completely special, the setting where it was made implies that it ought to be favored in any case because of some special circumstances the statement passed will not be considered as defamatory.

Innocent dissemination– Blameless spread is marginally less normal, yet might be a reasonable resistance. For instance, a pamphlet printer or distributor may raise this protection if the bulletin contains an abusive articulation. The author of the material in the bulletin offered the expression, and the distributor or printer could conceivably have perused the material. In this manner, they may not be answerable for the substance of the pamphlet. It is a defence of publishing defamatory material if the publisher can establish the fact that they:

  • published the material in the capacity of a “subordinate distributor”
  • neither knew or could not have reasonably known that the matter was defamatory or malice in nature.
  • did not have the knowledge because of sheer negligence.

Honest opinion– This defence will hold if the defendant honestly believed the fact that the truth of the opinions that he expressed. However, if the court deems there to be malice or ill intent involved in the publication of the statement then the defence will be defeated or withdrawn. The defendant must be able to prove that either explicitly or implicitly; at least in general terms the general facts on which the publication is based. This defence will be defeated if the Applicant can display that the comment was infused with malignity. In other words it is not necessarily his bona fide opinion. However, this can be very difficult to prove as the Claimant can not just show that the comment was prejudiced, exaggerated or unfair to prove that publication was malicious.

Poor reputation– A common defense is that the plaintiff already had a  poor or bad reputation. While this does not necessarily mean the suit will be dismissed in its entirety or tenure, it can reduce the credibility of the plaintiff’s claims and affect a jury’s decision if evidence of the plaintiff’s reputation comes in at trial. It could also make the plaintiff more likely to settle and/or reduce his or her recovery. the reputation hence plays a vital role in the case against the plaintiff for defamation.

Publication of public document– If a defamatory material is a part of a public document (or copy thereof) or a fair summary/extract from a public document, then that piece of document will become a proof or one of the defence to defamation.

This Article has been Written by Janvi Parihar, 2nd-Year Student of Bcom L.L.B (Hons). at Institute of Law, Nirma university.

Also Read – What Are The Essentials Of Defamation?

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