I have been insulted! Can I sue for slander?
By Andrew Davidson
This is a question I have had a few times. Two people got into an argument and one shouted a slur at the other. Perhaps they swore at them, or alleged unbecoming sexual conduct on the part of one, or both of their parents, or made use of any one of the many creative insults that the English language is capable of producing. Undoubtedly feelings have been hurt, but is it slander? Well, maybe. As with all litigation, whether there is a case will depend on the facts.
Did someone else hear?
Obviously no one likes to be insulted or abused but slander has to actually be a lie about someone else and the lie must effect their reputation. Your reputation is not affected if no one else knows about the slander. I have had a few clients who were privately called all sorts of things, from being a thief, to an adulterer, even a racist. However, because no-one else knew about the insult, aside from themselves and the alleged slanderer, there was no case. The only people who knew about it also knew that the statement was a lie.
Was it a just a mere insult?
The insult must be a statement of fact so just swearing at someone cannot be slander. Name calling is also very unlikely to count. Calling an acne sufferer who wears glasses ‘speccy four eyes’ is not nice but it is not a lie exactly and is not going to be damaging to the person’s reputation. Consequently it cannot be slander. Furthermore, even untrue insults may not actually damage a person’s reputation. Calling someone a ‘bastard’ in times past may have been a serious slur but today a person’s legitimacy is of no social or legal consequence.
So can I do anything?
There is always a chance that you have a case. If someone else heard, and the statement damaged your reputation, then a good slander specialist solicitor may be able to bring a case for you. Slander is one of the most difficult areas of law and, if you want to bring a case, it is important to consult a specialist solicitor.
Caven works with some of the best defamation solicitors in the country. If you think you have a case then fill in our web-form to speak to one of our advisors or call us on 08001 221 2299.
Andrew Davidson is one of Caven’s most knowledgeable case handlers with extensive experience in this matter from dealing with clients on a day-to-day basis.
- Last Updated on 27/11/2012