Under the Defamation Act a plaintiff can make two types of claims for defamation, these are claim for slander or libel. If the defamatory statement is in permanent form, it will be classified libel under the Defamation Act. However if the statement is in a transient then this will be classified as slander under the Defamation Act.
There is no definition for what is deemed defamatory under the Defamation Act. Suggestion has been made in court that any material which
- Is to a person’s reputation harm.
- Aims to lower the person in the estimation of others.
- Result in him/her being shunned or avoided.
- Results in him/her to be exposed to hatred
Will be defamatory, and the plaintiff may bring a claim against the defendant for either libel or slander under the Defamation Act.
There are other types of claims that the plaintiff can bring under the Defamation Act, this includes signs, gestures, photographs, pictures, statues, cartoons etc… However the main types of claims brought under the Defamation Act are, claims for libel or slander. The main difference between claims for libel and claims for slander is what must be proved by the claimant to win in his or her claim. In libel claims, the claimant does not have to prove that he or she has suffered loss or damage as a result of the publication. On the other hand, in claims for slander, the claimants have to prove actual damage. There are some exceptions available under the Defamation Act for the rule of actual damage for slander claims, with these exceptions the damage is presumed and does not need to be proved.