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The elements that must be proved to establish defamation are: (1) A publication to one other than the person defamed; (2) of a false statement of fact; (3) which is understood as being of and concerning the plaintiff; and (4) which is understood in such a way as to tend to harm the reputation of plaintiff.
An attack by speech on the good reputation of a person or business entity.
Libel is a defamatory statement expressed in a fixed medium, such as a writing. It is considered a civil injury, as opposed to a criminal offense. The tort of libel is often compared with that of slander, which is also characterized as a defamatory statement, but one made in a transitory form, such as speech.
Libel per se is libel for which special damages (e.g. actual loss of revenue) need not be proved in order for a plaintiff to recover general damages (e.g. for emotional distress). Libel per se applies only to slanderous publications which impute to the plaintiff one of the four following categories:
- a crime involving moral turpitude,
- a loathsome disease (e.g. a sexually transmitted disease),
- Unchastity (particularly concerns women)
- conduct that would adversely affect ones business or profession
General damages are presumed legitimate even in absence of proof of special damages when a plaintiff proves libel in one of these four cateogories.
Slander is a defamatory statement expressed in a transitory medium, such as verbal speech. It is considered a civil injury, as opposed to a criminal offence. Actual damages must be proven for someone to be held liable for slander. The tort of slander is often compared with that of libel, which is also characterized as a defamatory statement, but one made in a fixed form, such as writing.