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Defamation, Libel & Slander Claims

For advice or assistance about a defamation claim believed to be worth £10,000 or more, contact our expert defamation claims solicitors.

Reputation can be the most valuable thing an individual owns and can be the lifeblood of any company, so it is crucial to protect it. Our specialist solicitors have decades of experience in delicately handling defamation claims of all kinds, and we can help ensure this esteemed asset is kept intact.

We are a partner-led, niche litigation practice based in central London. In order to provide an exceptional service for our clients, we only offer strategic, high-level advice and representation. As a result, we cannot cost effectively handle claims with a value below £10,000. For individuals involved in a defamation dispute exceeding this amount who want a team of fierce litigators determined to achieve the desired result, contact Saunders today.

Our recent cases:

  • We represented Mr Crook in his landmark victory in the High Court for breach of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, breach of the Data Protection Act and breach of confidence following publication of his personal details in newspapers as “most wanted” for an alleged rape, securing him damages of £70,000.
  • B v Channel 4 – represented an individual in successful injunctive proceedings to prevent the publication of personal information on the programme “24 hours in police custody”.
  • Advising a corporate intelligence firm in its defamation claim against an Israeli broadcasting company.
  • Representing a journalist to remove a defamatory Twitter tweet that was made against them.
  • Advising a national charity and pressure group on matters relating to privacy and the misuse of confidential information.
  • Advising individuals before the Leveson Inquiry and Parliamentary Committees
    in the wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
  • Assisting an international news broadcaster during two major criminal and
    regulatory investigations, both of which were discontinued following the representations we made on their behalf.
  • Obtaining an injunction for a well-known businessman and entrepreneur to
    prohibit the publication of defamatory blogs and securing their removal.
  • Advising a high-profile media personality in connection with allegations of
    criminal conduct and managing the media response.

Speak to our defamation solicitors in London

For advice about making a defamation of character claim, call us on 020 7315 4809 or make an enquiry online.

Read our guide: An Introduction to Litigation.

Expert defamation lawyers in Central London – why Saunders Law is the smart choice for defamation claims

Due to the digital media revolution and the rapid rise of social platforms, there are more ways than ever before that a person’s reputation can suffer damage. Regardless of whether the reputational damage was caused by someone’s spoken words or written communications, we help individuals and businesses restore their reputation and take action against those who have unfairly attacked their character.

Our lawyers are well experienced in handling claims involving libel, slander and defamation of character – particularly where those responsible dispute the claim. We help clients who have suffered unfair and damaging statements about their personal character or conduct. We understand that such events can be extremely stressful and can put pressure on their business, their finances and their personal life. That is why we aim to mitigate the effect of such statements and ensure that our clients are fully compensated for any financial loss as a result of the defamation.

Partner-led team with over 40 years’ experience

Our partner-led team has over four decades of experience handling complex and high-value litigation cases. Our team includes many highly skilled professionals who have a wide range of legal expertise. For example, our head of dispute resolution, Matthew Purcell, has specialised in litigation his entire career, and his experience includes various high profile defamation cases.

Read more about our team of legal experts.

Bespoke service tailored to our clients’ individual needs

The circumstances leading up to the defamatory language as well as the comments, printed words or actions themselves will always be unique to each case. Therefore, we ensure that our advice is carefully tailored to our clients’ individual circumstances so that we can deliver the desired result as efficiently as possible.

We help our clients explore a multitude of potential options, utilising the highest levels of strategic insight gained from our decades of combined expertise.

Free, no-obligation, initial discussion

We can offer a free initial discussion to individuals and businesses about the possibility of making a defamation claim.

What is defamation?

Defamation is a spoken or written statement by an individual or business that turns out to be false but is harmful to their reputation. There are two types of defamation:

  • Slander – spoken words or comments
  • Libel or written defamation – words that are published in writing or broadcast

Each type of defamation has different legal requirements to prove in court.

Making a claim for defamation

Anyone who becomes aware that something defamatory has been written or said about them, whether online, in print or in public, should contact us right away. The sooner one of our specialist defamation lawyers is able to review the circumstances of the case, the more straightforward it is for us to mitigate the damage of the defamatory statement.

We help our clients to form the best strategy for ensuring their good character is protected. There are a number of actions we can take, including but not limited to:

  • Making a claim for damages;
  • Seeking an injunction to prevent libel or slander happening again; and
  • Seeking an apology from the liable party

We can also assist clients who have good reason to believe they are about to be the victim of defamation. We may be able to prevent any libellous statements by securing an injunction, ensuring our client’s reputation is never harmed in the first place. Our specialist lawyers deal with all defamation cases with understanding, and we hold detailed discussions in the strictest confidence before offering bespoke advice for each client’s specific situation.

It is vital for victims of defamation to act quickly as there are strict time limits for bringing proceedings. Contact Saunders today to find out how our defamation of character solicitors can help.

Defamation, slander & libel FAQs

How do I sue for defamation, libel and slander?

The Defamation Act 2013 sets out the law on defamation. The law states that, “a statement is not defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant”. The law also sets out a number of defences to defamation.

The Pre-action Protocol for Media and Communications Claims governs how defamation claims should be brought and managed. The Pre-Action Protocol covers a wide range of actions as well as defamation, including misuse of private information, data protection law, harassment, breach of confidence and malicious falsehood.

Claimants may have an action arise from publication or threatened publication by the print or broadcast media (e.g. newspapers and television programmes), online or social media, or in speech.

Parties are encouraged and expected to take all possible steps to settle the issues and achieve an early resolution, avoiding court where they can.

The first step to making a defamation claim is to draft and issue a Letter of Claim, setting out information such as the basis of the claim and what remedies the claimant is seeking. In setting out details of the claim, the claimant should include information such as:

  • What publication contains the defamatory statements
  • What the defamatory statement was
  • The date of publication or (in the case of slander) where and in what circumstances the statement was spoken
  • What the claimant claims was meant by the defamatory statement
  • In what way the statement was inaccurate or unsupportable
  • How the statement caused or was likely to cause the claimant serious harm

The defendant may respond to the Letter of Claim to accept the claim (in part or in full), request more information, or to reject the claim (together with reasons).

Depending on the defendant’s response, it may be appropriate to use Alternative Dispute Resolution methods, such as mediation, early neutral evaluation (ENE), or arbitration.

If Alternative Dispute Resolution is unsuccessful, the Pre-Action Protocol states that parties should conduct a ‘stocktake’ to review their positions and see whether there are any other options for resolving the claim. The last option is to make a defamation court claim.

Are there any defences to defamation?

There are a number of defences available to parties involved in defamation cases. This includes the defence that the statement is true, or that the statement was “fair comment”.

However, the team here at Saunders are exceptionally experienced in handling defamation claims and can provide advice on how likely a claim is to succeed.

What is the difference between defamation, libel and slander?

Defamation is the umbrella term for the situation where a statement is made that is unfair, untrue and is likely to lower other people’s opinion of the defamed person or business. This is known as a defamation of character and can be either written, spoken or appear online or on social media.

However, the terms “libel” and “slander” are also used to describe such situations, and many find the difference confusing.

What is libel?

The term libel refers to when defamatory statements have been made in a permanent form, such as in print, television broadcasts or on websites.

What is slander?

On the other hand, slander occurs when someone talks about a person or business in a negative way, which may cause damage to their reputation.

What are defamatory statements?

Defamatory statements can be made in a number of ways, including word of mouth, social media and written publications like newspapers or magazines. If something unfair or untrue is said or written about a person or business, which is likely to lower them in the estimation of other people, this is defamation of character.

Do I need a libel lawyer, or do I need a slander lawyer?

Our defamation lawyers specialise in both libel and slander claims. Regardless of how the defamatory statement was made, we will take robust action to restore and protect our client’s reputation.

Can someone make a defamation claim if they are not mentioned by name?

Yes, so long as the person or business is identifiable by the defamatory words or material, it is possible to bring a claim for defamation.

Can companies make a defamation claim?

Yes, UK defamation, libel and slander law states that for a company’s defamation claim to be successful, they must prove that the defamatory words or material has caused or is likely to cause significant harm to their business. Significant harm tends to mean a serious financial loss.

Can a person claim for defamatory words published on social media?

Yes, although social media is often less permanent than other forms of publication as posts and comments can be deleted and removed, defamatory words published on social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook can be just as detrimental to reputation as words published in a newspaper or broadcast.

Social media defamation can even be arguably worse than other forms of defamation because it has such a wide, global reach, and it is easy for content to be republished across the web.

Visit our Defamation, Libel & Slander on Social Media page for more information.

Who do you sue for defamation?

Any person or business involved in publishing the defamatory words or material can be sued. This could include the author of the material as well as the editor, producer, publishing company or (in some cases) a website owner. In the case of website owners, it may not be possible to sue if they were not responsible for the material being published on their website.

What are the time limits for defamation claims?

Under UK defamation law, any person or business affected by defamation must bring their claim within one year of the date of publication. Where the material has been re-published – for example, material that continues to be posted online – the time limit still runs from the date it was first published.

Can you get compensation for defamation?

Compensation may be one of the remedies available to someone who has been the victim of defamation. Other remedies include:

  • An injunction to prevent further publication or to get defamatory material removed or taken down
  • An apology or retraction

Do all defamation claims go to court?

No, some do, but the courts usually try to encourage parties to negotiate a settlement out of court wherever possible. This typically involves writing a letter of claim setting out the basis of the claim and the expected resolution. From here, the parties can attempt to negotiate an appropriate settlement, such as compensation or an apology. If a voluntary settlement is not possible, it may be necessary to go to court. A skilled defamation solicitor can provide detailed advice about the suitability of any settlement offer and the prospects of making a successful court claim.

Saunders Law – Expert Defamation and Commercial Litigation Lawyers London

At Saunders Law, we are dedicated litigators with vast experience assisting clients in resolving their civil and commercial disputes. We are well-known for our high-profile work and excellent client satisfaction. Operating from offices facing the High Court in central London, we are also ideally located to handle all kinds of litigation cases. For a free, no-obligation, initial discussion of how we may be able to help, please contact us.

Call us on 020 7632 4300 or make an enquiry online.