Slander on the internet


Slander and libel are types of defamation. Defamation occurs when an untrue statement is made about another person or business which is injurious to their reputation. Slander differs from libel because it concerns statements that are made in a transient form. Generally this refers to statements that are made orally. However, it could also include a gesture, or other means of communication which is unrecorded and is transient. Libel, on the other hand, concerns statements made in writing, or which are broadcast or otherwise recorded and in a permanent form. Generally this refers to statements made in magazines, newspapers, books, on television, or in film.

It is possible that statements made via the internet could constitute internet slander or internet libel. Internet slander may occur where the statement is made via the internet, but not recorded, and in an impermanent manner. Internet libel may occur where the statement is made via the internet in a permanent manner. The distinction between internet slander and libel is a difficult one to draw, and is a relatively new area of UK defamation law.

Communications made via email, on discussion boards, in chat rooms, and on websites differ in the degree of permanency attached to them. Recently, the High Court has indicated that statements made in internet chat rooms are more likely to be characterised as internet slander than internet libel, due to the casual or conversational character of them. However, the judge did not rule out that blogging and similar communications could not constitute libel in other circumstances.

As a consequence, if someone has made an untrue statement about you or your business on the internet, you should speak to a specialist defamation solicitor to see whether it may constitute internet slander or libel. Internet slander has an additional element which must be proved, which is that the statement has caused damage or loss.

There are also certain circumstances in which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may be liable for statements made on their sites. This is a particularly complex aspect of internet slander and libel law. The Electronic Commerce Regulations 2002 have sought to clarify the law in relation to this by setting out the circumstances in which internet intermediaries should not be held accountable for such material.

If you would like to obtain legal advice on internet slander or libel, Caven can put you in touch with local specialist defamation / slander solicitors free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local specialist defamation / slander solicitors please call us on 0800 1777 168 or complete the web-form above.

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