Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Law - Qualified Privilege

Qualified privilege is available as a defence when it is believed that the facts should be freely known in the public interest, and that they are important. In certain circumstances, there is privilege at common law for the publication of statements that are defamatory.

Qualified Privilege gives as much protection as absolute privilege, provided that the defence's requirements are met, but it is important to remember that the requirements for qualified privilege are different to those of absolute privilege. The basic requirements of qualified privilege defences is that the published report is fair and accurate, and s published without any form of malice.

There is also a general requirement for qualified privilege that the matter published must be a matter of public concern and that the publication is a matter of public interest and in the benefit of the public.

However, there is no qualified privilege for a media report for defamatory statements made by councillors after a meeting when they have been asked to expand or explain their statements made during the meeting. This is an example of the Henry case which shows protection of statutory qualified privilege which applies only to the reports of the actual proceedings at the occasion.

Slander is a defamatory statement which is spoken or expressed in any other form which is not written or an image, because libel is more of a permanent form. But, there are exceptions to slander which are, that if a defamatory statement is broadcast on the TV or radio then that is classed as libel, and if the defamatory statement is in a public performance of a play.
In slander, as with libel, there must publication to a third person or party, but in libel damages will be assumed whereas in slander the dmages must be proven very firmly, except in four particular cases:
  1. any assumption that an individual has committed crime which prison is a punishment
  2. any assumption where the person is suffering from a disease which causes them to be shunned or avoided
  3. any assumption of immoral sexual behaviour in a woman
  4. any statement which has caused a person to be disparaged in their trade or profession

Journalists are less likely to involved in slander cases than in any libel actions, but it is vital to be wary of the danger of slander.

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