Defamation Law in Ireland
The law of Defamation in Ireland is governed by the Constitution, Common Law (body of law derived from judicial decisions) and the Defamation Act 1961, as amended. Defamation law regulates the numerous and varied occasions of human activity when individuals have reason to speak unpleasantly of one another. The purpose of the law of defamation is to hold a balance between freedom of speech and the right to reputation. The law starts from the premise that the maker of the disparaging statement is liable.
What is defamatory?
The basic tenet of the law is that any statement, however made, and whether public or private, which is adversely reflective on the name or reputation of another is capable of being defamatory and of being sued upon. Defamation is divided into two forms: libel and slander. Historically, libel was the written form of defamation, while slander was the spoken form. The advent of modern technology has made those definitions somewhat obsolete; a defamatory statement broadcast on radio or television or the Internet would be regarded as libellous, rather than slanderous.
The essentials of the action
An actionable defamatory statement has three ingredients:
1. It must be published – publication in this context means that the statement must be communicated to a third party.
2. It must refer to the complainant and
3. It must be false