29 November, 2019
We recently acted for an organisation which received notification of a claim pursuant to the Pre-Action Protocol for Defamation (now replaced by the pre-action protocol for media and communications as of October 2019). It was alleged that during the course of the two day conference a number of PowerPoint slides were shown to delegations containing unflattering and doctored images of a prominent figure whom all delegates were familiar with. Supplementing the images were captions and verbal dialogue from the host. Despite the claimant not being present, the individual eventually learnt of the course of events which unfolded at the conference and thus initiated the claim.
Defamation is governed by the Defamation Act 2013 (''the Act'').
Defamation is any intentional false communication, which can also be either written or spoken, that harms a person's reputation, typically lowering the claimant in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally, or is likely to affect a person adversely in the estimation of reasonable people generally.
To constitute defamation, a claim must generally be false and must have been made to someone other than the person defamed.
One can be defamed by way of spoken word (slander) or alternatively by way of written publication (libel).
In the above case study it is the case that instances of libel and slander would have transpired.
If the 'serious harm' test (section 1 of the Act), can be satisfied a claim for damages would likely to be successful.