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.
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