Slander

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A form of Defamation in which the imputation is made in a non-permanent form, such as word of mouth. Where the imputation is in print, or a broadcast, it may amount to Libel. The distinction is important for the claimant, because in a claim for slander he or she will usually have to prove special damage. There are a number of exceptions to this principle.

  1. Imputation of professional incompetence. Any remark that tends to disparage the claimant in 'any trade or calling' is Actionable per se, even if the trade or calling is a humble one. Of the exceptions to the special damage rule, this one is the most frequently encountered in practice.
  1. Imputation of unchastity in a woman. This exception specifically applies to women, and it remains to be seen whether it would survive a challenge under recent human rights and equality legislation.
  1. Imputation of infection with a contagious disease, that would tend to have the effect that people would shun the claimant's company. The last action under this head of liability appears to have been made in the 19th century, so it is unclear to what extent it still exists.
  1. Imputation of commission of an offence punishable by imprisonment. The imputation must allege that the claimant actually committed a crime, not merely that he was suspected of doing so. As a matter of logic, this claim cannot be bought if the allegation is of something that cannot amount to a crime.

If an imputation does not fall into one of these categories, it does not mean it is not actionable, it merely means that the claimant must show he sufferedspecial damage.