Whenever an individual makes a false statement about another person that causes them harm, this act is called defamation. Slander is a form of defamation that usually involves oral statements; libel refers to statements that are published, not spoken.
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Slander can be carried out by spoken words, signs and gestures. This form of defamation is designed to damage the reputation and injure the character of a person.
Causes for defamation include false statements or intentionally saying something harmful about a person to a third party.
People who have been defamed can sustain defamation claims on the grounds of mental anguish. Individuals can file this type of claim once damage to their reputation has occurred. Defendants have the responsibility of proving the allegation is true when it comes to defamation per se.
Defendants who can prove their allegations to be true will have an absolute defence to a defamation action and they will win the case. Other defences include opinion (the defendant was giving his opinion, not stating a fact) or fair comment (a comment on a matter of public interest). Statements made during a court proceeding by witnesses and lawyers or by judges from the bench or legislators during legislative sessions are "privileged," in that nothing said during these times can be construed to be defamation of character.
Defamation is hard to prove and in most cases losses are not recovered. Defamation cases are high cost. Also, when an individual cannot prove defamation allegations to be false, chances are the public will assume that the false allegations are true.
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