Definitions of Libel

Libel law protects individuals from unjustified attacks on their reputation. A person is libelled if the words expose him or her to the risk of being:

  • hated, ridiculed, or viewed with contempt, or
  • shunned or avoided, or
  • lowered in the standing of right thinking members of society, or
  • discredited in his trade, business, office, or profession.

The law tries to balance the equally important but often opposing demand of freedom of expression. The job of a journalist often involves saying things about people which they prefer not being said. The law allows you to report on what is true or comment on a fact based on truth.

There are also situations protected by qualified privilege preventing libel challenges where there is a duty to give information and a corresponding interest to receive it. This area of law is being developed with a new protection for "responsible" journalism which means getting the story right and acting on good advice.

Have a complaint?

It is important not to over-react or suffer in silence when something wrong and hurtful has been published about you - quick and expert professional advice can often help.

Visit our victim of libel page to find out how we can assist you.

Received a complaint?

Those accused of libel are often affronted by a complaint especially those journalists who value their professionalism and feel they have written nothing wrong. Again good early and expert advice is not only reassuring but can often save a lot of expense and stress later.

Visit our accused of libel page to find out how we can help defend you.