Defamation is the publication of a statement, which reflects on a persons reputation and tends to lower him in the estimation of right thinking members of society generally, and tend to make them shun or avoid him.
It has also been defined as a statement calculated to injure the reputation of another person by exposing him to hatred, contempt or ridicule.
This tort protects a persons reputation from unlawful interference. Every person has a reputation.
Defamation is either; libel or slader.
Libel; this is a defamatory representation in some permanent form for example publication in a newspaper, pictorial illustration, sign. Libel is actionable per
se i.e. the plaintiff need not prove loss or damage. It is both crime and a tort.
Slander; this is defamation by spoken word or gestures. It is transient or temporal in character. It is a mere tort. It is generally not actionable per se. Loss or
damage must be proved. However, slander is actionable per se in the following circumstances:
– Imputation of crime; plaintiff has committed a criminal offence.
– Imputation of disease. To impute that one is suffering from an infectious disease.
– Imputation of unchastity. To impute that a woman is unchaste or has committed adultery.
– Imputation of unfitness or incompetence;