Libel and Slander
Libel and slander are forms of defamation, a civil complaint defined as publicly making false statements about another person.
- Libel is a false and malicious statement about someone else, expressed in print. This statement can be made through writing, pictures, signs or other printed material. Some courts distinguish between a libel that appears defamatory at the first glance (“libel per se”) and libel that simply implies something defamatory (“libel per quod”).
- Slander is a false and malicious spoken statement about someone else. Slander is also subdivided into categories. For example, if a spoken defamatory statement is made about another’s profession or business, such statement is a “slander per se.”
Proving Defamation through Libel or Slander
To prove defamation through libel or slander, the statement must fulfill all three requirements:
- Communicated intentionally or negligently to someone else.
- Harmful to the reputation of the person the statement refers to. In another words, the communicated statement has to be “defamatory.”
- The statement must point in some way to the person defamed. Such reference may be implied.
However, depending on the status of the person being defamed or the subject matter of communication, malice or/and actual injury must be shown. For example, because of the Constitutional free speech protections, a libel or slander that references a public figure or official requires a showing of malice, Similarly, when libel or slander reference a private person but with respect to public concern subject matter, it is necessary to show the presence of malice or negligence resulting in actual injury.
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