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Qualified Privilege under the Defamation Act 1996

The defence of qualified privilege is governed by common law as well as the Defamation Act 1996.

The Defamation Act 1996 provides a statutory qualified privilege for material which is of public interest and concern.  This is governed by section 15 of the Defamation Act 1996 which has two categories.

The first category of qualified privilege under Schedule 1 of the Defamation Act 1996 is for statements having ‘qualified privilege without explanation or contradiction’ which covers:

  1. fair and accurate reports of the proceedings of legislatures, courts and governmental inquiries; and
  2. fair and accurate copies of material published by or on the authority of any governmental, legislature and international organisation anywhere in the world.
  3. A notice or advertisement published by or on the authority of a court, or of a judge or officer of a court anywhere in the world.or on the authority of a court, orof a judge or

The second category of qualified privilege is under Schedule 2 of the Defamation Act 1996 which is described as ‘privileged subject to explanation or contradiction’. Under the Defamation Act 1996 this includes following reports and statements on the following:

  1. a fair and accurate copy of or extract from a notice or other matter issued for the information of the public by or behalf of:
  2. a legislature in any Member State or the European,
  3. government
  4. international organisation and conference.

Therefore, the protection of qualified privilege offered under the Defamation Act 1996 will be lost if the claimant has supplied a reasonable explanation or contradiction of the statement and requested its publication, but the defendant has failed to publish it in ‘a reasonable manner’.

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