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The Law of Defamation

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Criminal Defamation

The offence of defamation is provided under section 500 of IPC. But, section 499 talks about ten exceptions about what can’t be termed defamation or it can be pushed as Defence by the Accused.

Civil Defamation

 Extent of Damages

Numbers of factors are enlisted to determine amount of damages, which is to be awarded. Those factors are (i) the gravity of allegation, (ii) the size and influence of the circulation, (iii) the effect of publication, (iv) the extent and nature of claimant’s reputation and (v) the behavior of defendant and claimant plaintiff. These factors lend us upper hand to decide the perfect amount of damages and costs

Cyber Defamation

Notable Supreme Court Cases

R. Rajagopal versus State of Tamil Nadu [ AIR 1995 SC 264]

Subramanian Swamy Vs. Union Of India, Ministry of Law and others

Manmohan Kalia versus Yash[(1984) 3 Supreme Court Cases 499]

L. D. Jaikwal versus State of Uttar Pradesh[2013 Criminal Law Journal 1757 SC]

Gambhirsinh R. Dekare versus Falgunibhai Chimanbhai Patel and others[ 2013 Criminal Law Journal 1757 SC]

New Zealand

Defamation Act 1992[1 February 1993]

defamation includes libel and slander

  • In any proceedings for defamation, the plaintiff shall give particulars specifying every statement that the plaintiff alleges to be defamatory and untrue in the matter that is the subject of the proceedings
  • In any proceedings for defamation, where the defendant intends to adduce evidence of specific instances of misconduct by the plaintiff in order to establish that the plaintiff is a person whose reputation is generally bad in the aspect to which the proceedings relate, the defendant shall include in the defendant’s statement of defence a statement that the defendant intends to adduce that evidence

Proceedings for defamation brought by body corporate
Proceedings for defamation brought by a body corporate shall fail unless the body corporate alleges and proves that the publication of the matter that is the subject of the proceedings—

(a) has caused pecuniary loss; or
(b) is likely to cause pecuniary loss—
to that body corporate.


Defamation Act [April, 1960]

The action shall be tried in the county where the chief office of the newspaper or of the owner or operator of the broadcasting station is situated, or in the county wherein the plaintiff resides at the time the action is brought, but upon the application of either party the court may direct the action to be tried, or the damages to be assessed, in any other county if it appears to be in the interests of justice, and may impose such terms as to payment of witness fees and otherwise as the court deems proper. R.S., c. 122, s. 20.



Tort of defamation
S 6 Tort of defamation

(1) This Act relates to the tort of defamation at general law.
(2) This Act does not affect the operation of the general law in relation to the tort of defamation except to the extent that this Act provides otherwise (whether expressly or by necessary implication).
(3) Without limiting subsection (2), the general law as it is from time to time applies for the purposes of this Act as if the following legislation had never been enacted:
(a) the Defamation Act 1958 ,
(b) the Defamation Act 1974 .

Distinction between slander and libel abolished

7 Distinction between slander and libel abolished

(1) The distinction at general law between slander and libel is abolished.
(2) Accordingly, the publication of defamatory matter of any kind is actionable without proof of special damage.

Division 2 - Defences

   24.     Scope of defences under general law and other law not limited
   25.     Defence of justification
   26.     Defence of contextual truth
   27.     Defence of absolute privilege
   28.     Defence for publication of public documents
   29.     Defences of fair report of proceedings of public concern
   30.     Defence of qualified privilege for provision of certain information
   31.     Defences of honest opinion
   32.     Defence of innocent dissemination
   33.     Defence of triviality
 Division 3 - Remedies

   34.     Damages to bear rational relationship to harm
   35.     Damages for non-economic loss limited
   36.     State of mind of defendant generally not relevant to awarding damages
   37.     Exemplary or punitive damages cannot be awarded
   38.     Factors in mitigation of damages
   39.     Damages for multiple causes of action may be assessed as single sum

United Kingdom

Defamation Act 2013

S. 1 Serious harm
(1) A statement is not defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant.
(2) For the purposes of this section, harm to the reputation of a body that trades for profit is not “serious harm” unless it has caused or is likely to cause the body serious financial loss.

2 Truth
3 Honest opinion
4 Publication on matter of public interest
5 Operators of websites
6 Peer-reviewed statement in scientific or academic journal etc
7 Reports etc protected by privilege


 Defamation Act, 1961 

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