Defamation of character refers to an act where someone makes false statements concerning you that is meant to destroy your reputation both as a person and as a professional, which may in turn cause emotional distress and financial losses to you. It can be through written communication or oral communication that is usually presented as a fact.
Elements that indicate defamation of character
There are 3 necessary elements to a valid cause of action for defamation. Find out what they are:
- A statement of fact
For defamation to happen in the first place, someone should have made a statement about you that is presented as a fact instead of an opinion. That is what makes it defamatory.
- A published statement
You should also have the clear words from that person recorded or published exactly as they were without any addition or omission. This will provide evidence during the hearing which will increase your chances of winning the case and getting compensated for such statements.
- The statement caused damage
Another thing about defamation of character is that there must exist actual damage to you, not just any damage, but that which can cost you your job, or even cost your health and other conditions. Some false statements that may lead to your dismissal at work will have very negative impacts on your life because you will become unemployed and unable to provide for your family as you used to. In such a case, you need to find a suitable lawyer who can help you present your case in a legal hearing.
- The statement must be false
You should note that not all negative comments made about us are defamation. For a statement to qualify as defamation, it first needs to be propagated as a fact. Secondly, the statement should be a total lie and far from facts about oneself.
- The statement is not privileged
Most accused persons defend themselves by outlining to the court that the statements they made were privileged, meaning that they made those statements in a context that generally requires protection. Therefore, if the court proves that it was indeed privileged, the defamation claim will be effectively closed.
When you gather the five elements mentioned above, with the help of your lawyer, you will have high chances of winning a defamation claim and receive compensation from the accused person.
What to do after establishing defamation of character?
After you have established that your character has been defamed and you have gathered the necessary evidence for trial, these are the next steps:
You should immediately walk out of the scene and avoid exchanging words with the accuser as they may be used against you during the trial. Make sure you have had enough time to calm down before you can proceed with the next steps to ensure you are in a place to defend yourself instead of dealing with the initial stress of being accused.
- Look for a lawyer
Make sure you have gathered all the necessary evidence that will prove defamation of character in a tribunal hearing, including names and contacts of witnesses with their copies of written statements. After that, you should find an attorney that specialises in defamation cases and present your grievances. The attorney will then guide you on the next steps to take and will represent you during the trial.