In a highly publicised defamation case, actress Rebel Wilson is fighting a media giant in Australia over damages awarded at trial. 

Do you know the definition of defamation in the UK?

What is defamation?

Defamation is the legal term that is used when a statement is published or communicated to a third party and the content of that statement seriously damages or is likely to seriously damage, the good reputation of another identifiable person or business.

In this context the term “statement” includes words, pictures, visual images and gestures. If the person bringing the claim is an individual then a statement is not defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the individual.

To qualify as defamation, the statement must identify or refer to the individual or entity in a way that identifies that individual or entity. For example “all lawyers are frauds” is not likely to be defamatory but it may be defamatory to say all lawyers of a specific firm are frauds.

In a business context this means 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 entity serious financial loss.

In my next blog, I'll address the two types of defamation under UK law.  

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