Teacher journal archive (2008-2011)

Article Title

Reputation : defamation 101


For those who have never heard of calumny and are not sure of the difference between libel and slander this article explains the basics of defamation. Defamation is a situation in which one person damages another person's reputation by communicating, in words, writing, photos, video and the like, material about that person. The person whose reputation has been attacked, called the plaintiff, may commence legal proceedings against the 'attacker', called the defendant, in order to recover damages and to retrain that person from further attack. The object of defamation law is to balance freedom of expression with the protection of reputation, and to provide effective and fair remedies for persons whose reputations have bee harmed by the publication of defamatory matter. While both civil and criminal defamation exist, civil defamation is the most common and is more relevant for schools. The article discusses how defamation arises; who can sue and be sued for defamation; and defences. The authors conclude that the best strategy for a school is to vigilantly review all material it publishes and act promptly if it is ever made aware of a potentially defamatory situation. [Author abstract, ed]

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