Defamation: The New Law
The 2013 Defamation Act is now in force. Now you can only claim if your reputation has suffered serious damage, which in the case of a profit making organisation means serious financial damage. In the case of publications outside as well as inside England or Wales you can only use the English Courts if you live in an EU Country, or in a country with which we have treaty obligations allowing non-EU nationals to use our courts.
In the last 20 years pressure to use defamation laws was reduced by the “offer of amends” defence which came in in 1996 and then rose again with the use of social media sites. People wrongly felt free to use social media to make statements about others that were not an honestly held belief, or otherwise true, and the subject’s reputation suffered harm as a result.
The one year time-limit for starting a Court claim now runs from the first time the problem appeared, unless any republication is in a substantially different form. Retweeting someone else’s libel can put you in the frame for Court action.
Website owners have protection as well as long as they comply with regulations designed to help identify someone who posts a defamatory remark on their website. Then it is the person posting the comment that can be sued rather than the website owner.
If you are the subject of a defamatory remark or are being pursued for defamation, we at John Hodge Solicitors can help. Call Stephen Mackie on 01934 410910.