Last Updated on 29.11.22 by Guy Lightowler
We receive a lot of enquiries from potential clients who have a complaint regarding something that has been said or written about them. Often this arises as a result of social media posts or comments in a book or magazine/newspaper. The comments might be made about an individual or be made about how they conduct their business.
Either way, the person enquiring is normally very aggrieved and wants advice on how to deal with the situation.
Quite often, the comments made suggest that an individual has done something bad or wrong and this greatly impacts the reputation of that individual. On other occasions, the comments might relate to a person’s business and the comments are intended to damage that person’s livelihood, driving potential customers away.
Those making such comments, either orally or in writing are effectively “publishing” statements which may fall under the law of defamation. If the statement is published orally then it might constitute slander. If it’s published in writing then it might constitute libel.
When can I claim under the law of defamation?
To be eligible to make a claim, the published comment must have been made to a third party and had the effect of causing you or your business ‘’serious harm’’. If this is the case, a claim can be brought against the person making the comment(s).
The limitation period for claims of defamation and libel
There’s a short limitation period concerning defamation of just one year. The same also applies to claims of malicious falsehood.
This means that from the date that the comments were published, a party has one year in which to commence their claim through the courts. If the party waits longer than a year to do anything about it, limitations mean any claim is statute-barred i.e. the party loses their right to claim for defamation/malicious falsehood.
Seek advice as soon as possible
On more than one occasion, I’ve had to pass this advice on and let clients know that they cannot take their enquiry further. This is a huge disappointment to them and leaves them with little recourse on the matter from a legal perspective.
As far as these types of claims are concerned, you should seek advice as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.