defamation

  

Definition

Making of false, derogatory statement(s) in private or public about a person's business practices, character, financial status, morals, or reputation. Oral defamation is a slander whereas printed or published defamation is a libel. The plaintiff must prove that the defamation was communicated to someone other than him or her. And, if the statement is not obviously defamatory, it must be shown that it carries a defamatory meaning (see innuendo) and that reasonable people would think that it refers to the plaintiff. In case of unintentional defamation, the defendant may mitigate damages or escape liability by offering an apology. Defamation with malicious intent (see malice) invalidates the defense of fair comment and qualified privilege. Defamation that imputes a criminal offense punishable with imprisonment, is usually a sufficient ground for a court action even in the absence of a proof of special damages. Under the UK law, defamation damages are assessed by a jury and not a judge.

Use defamation in a sentence

  • The employee had sued his former employer for defamation of his character when he claimed that he was given several bad references after termination by his employer.

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  • The company's CEO claimed defamation when the media claimed that he was having an affair with his young, attractive administrative assistant.

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  • The woman was so angry with her ex-lover that she started a vicious and false rumor that he is stealing money from his job as a banker; he has since filed a suit against her for defamation.

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