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Cover An Introduction to Tort Law

12. Defamation  

Celebrated for their conceptual clarity, titles in the Clarendon Law Series offer concise, accessible overviews of major fields of law and legal thought. This chapter deals with the law of defamation. The basic rules of the common law of defamation state that: A is liable for saying anything to C about B which would be apt to make an average citizen think worse of the latter. In principle, B can sue A without having to show that what A said was false, that it caused him any harm, or that A was at any way at fault in saying it. The chapter distinguishes between what is ‘defamatory’ and what is not. It discusses the liability for the act of communication is called ‘publication’. It also considers defences: to apparent allegations of fact, the only defences are truth (called ‘justification’) and privilege; for statements of opinion, which cannot be false but at the most simulated, the defence is ‘fair comment on a matter of public interest’.