Thin privilege dating
However, the English courts have taken the view that some internet communications are more akin to speech than the traditional print, and that slander rather than libel should apply to those communications. A defamatory statement is not actionable unless it is published.Unfortunately for webmasters, when libel lawyers say "published", they mean communicated to one person (not including the person defamed).Under the Defamation Act 1996, a website host will have a defence to a claim for libel if he can show that (i) he was not the author, editor or publisher of the statement complained of, (ii) he took reasonable care in relation to its publication, and (iii) he did not know and had no reason to believe that what he did caused or contributed to the publication of the defamatory statement.The defence under the E-commerce Regulations is broader in that it covers not just defamation but also other kind of legal action; however it is shallower in that it does not provide a complete defence, but merely a defence against financial and criminal penalties.
Webmasters need to know about libel law because material published on a website can give rise to libel claims.The second kind may be called "statutory qualified privilege".This refers to a range of specific defences under the Defamation Act 1996 relating to the publication of fair and accurate reports of the proceedings of certain public bodies.It is sometimes thought that you cannot libel a corporation. A corporation has a reputation just like a natural person, and that reputation may be injured by a defamatory statement.
On the other hand, it is not possible to defame the government, or an arm of the government.It is for the defendant who relies upon a justification defence to prove the truth of the libel. The defence of "fair comment" may be available to a defendant who can show that the defamatory statement amounted to an opinion which was honestly held and based up facts which were true.