Defamation Claims*

What is defamation?

The tort of Defamation in Ireland is the right to protect your reputation and good name from unjust attacks. The Defamation Act 2009 sets out the law applicable in this area.  If your reputation has been damaged by a false accusation you may wish to consider seeking advice on a Defamation action

Types of Defamation Cases

In order to succeed with a defamatory action, you must be able to prove to the court that the publicised accusation made is false or malicious and has damaged your good name. Cases arise most commonly in public areas such as a false accusation of theft from a store, non-payment of a bill as a customer and searching of shopping bags by security.  There are also scenarios that arise where a disgruntled ex-employer provides a biased reference for an employee.  However, defamation in its most common form occurs within social media. This has created an increase in cases against social media providers and has raised some interesting legal arguments in the courts over the last number of years, leading to some ground-breaking case law.  There are several defences to Defamation. A Defendant in a Defamation case may try and argue that the accusation is true, that the accusation was made within a privileged set of circumstances or that no malice was intended.

Slander and Libel

The Defamation Act 2009 replaced slander and libel. All spoken and written forms of defamation are now simply covered by the legal term ‘defamation’. Prior to the 2009 Defamation Act Slander referred to a defamatory statement by way of spoken word and Libel was a defamatory statement in written form.

Public Defamation

Public defamation cases arise most commonly in public areas such as a false accusation of theft from a store, non-payment of a bill as a customer, searching of shopping bags by security, or making demanding a customer to attend a back area of a store for a security search.

Defamation at work

The most common incident of defamation at work is where a disgruntled ex-employer provides a biased reference for an employee to a potential new employer, in which the ex-employee then fails to secure employment due to unfavourable reference. However, there are other acts such as rumours, which cause common dispute over defamatory conduct. These types of cases can be difficult to prove, but if you believe you have been defamed in the workplace, you should aim to take action.

Eligibility for a defamation case

Defamation actions primality arise from the following scenarios

  • Newspaper articles
  • Social Media Publication
  • False Accusations in public places : Shop or Bar
  • Television News reports
  • False accusations in the workplace environment
  • Former employer providing malicious reference

In order to succeed with a defamatory action you must be able to prove to a court that the publicised accusation made is false or malicious and has damaged your good name. A key aspect to a defamation case is that the accusation has been publicised whereby another person has heard the false accusation and understood the accusation to be true.     

What is involved in a defamation lawsuit?

In order to succeed with a defamation action you must be able to prove to the court that the publicised accusation made is false or malicious and has damaged your good name. A key aspect to a defamation case is that the accusation has been publicised whereby another person has heard the false accusation and understood the accusation to be true.

Damages covered in a defamation of character case

The Court Of Appeal in Kinsella –v- Kenmare Resources PLC and Carvill recently reduced damages from €10m to €250,000.00.  In the High Court a jury is appointed to determine whether defamation arises in a case and if so what level of damages should be awarded by a court. If a case proceeds in the High Court the plaintiff’s damages should exceed €75,000.00.  In the Circuit Court a judge determines the level of award if a plaintiff is successful. The jurisdiction of the Circuit Court is €15,000.00 - €75,000.00.

At HOMS Assist we have over fifty years’ experience in advising and representing clients successfully in defamation claims. You can contact one of our experienced advisors who will be happy to assist you.

*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement

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