Accused of Libel or Slander? This is How You Defend Yourself

a lawyer talking to his client

Defamation occurs when you make false statements about another individual or business, consequently causing injury. There are two types of defamation, namely libel and slander. The former occurs when misleading statements are made in printed publication while the latter encompasses verbal comments. While the law focuses on providing recourse to the victims of defamation, the constitution offers specific forms of defenses below.

Truth

Unlike the common law that automatically presumed that a statement was untrue upon a plaintiff proving that it was defamatory, the modern law requires the complainant to prove falsity as a prerequisite for recovery. If the statement in question is substantially correct in the eyes of the court, it will suffice as a defense even if it is not literally factual. You will need adequate representation by a civil litigation lawyer in Charlotte, NC to show that there was a reasonable belief on your part that the statement was true.

Consent

If you can prove that the plaintiff expressly consented to the publication or broadcast of the alleged defamatory statement, you will have a complete defense against a defamation action. For instance, a person might approve the intentions of an organization that is investigating their conduct to publicize its finding. If they later decide to brand such publication as defamation, their efforts will be fruitless.

Absolute privilege

Certain forms of communications are considered absolutely privileged, which is to mean that the person making such statements is wholly entitled to immunity from a lawsuit irrespective of their being defamatory. For example, statements made by lawyers, judges, and witnesses in court are exempted from a defamation action. This also applies to an announcement made by high government officials during formal gatherings.

Absence of actual harm

If the plaintiff fails to establish that the alleged defamatory statement caused material damage to their reputation, the defendant can use this loophole as a defense. For example, a fallacious statement that is so ridiculous that no one believes it will not provide sufficient ground for defamation.

The defenses against defamation are aimed at maintaining a balance between the legal interest of protecting the reputation of people and the right to freedom of speech. Hiring a lawyer when a defamation claim is brought against you will allow possible resolution of the matter before going to trial and access to any defenses if the plaintiff decides to sue you.