Carruthers Law Solicitors are based in Liverpool but act for clients nationwide

Defamation Defences

Liverpool Defamation Solicitors Carruthers Law are experts in acting for clients nationwide either bringing or defending claims against newspapers, television and Radio organisations and companies.

What are the Defamation Defences available?


It is a complete Defence to a Claim to show that the statement is substantially true. If it is substantially true there is no need to show any public interest or whether the Defendant has acted maliciously.

Relying on truth the Defendant will have to show on the balance of probabilities i.e. that it is more likely than not that the allegation is true.

It is not necessary for the Defendant to show that every allegation is true, if there were a number of allegations and some where shown to be true and others where not, but the allegations that were not true did not materially injure the Claimant’s reputation then the Defence will still succeed.

The Defendant cannot rely on truth in relation to spent convictions under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

  • “If the Claimant can show that the publication acted maliciously”.

A Defendant who repeats a rumour cannot rely upon truth just because there was a rumour, the Defendant would have to show that the rumour was true.

The Defendant has to be very careful relying on truth because even if the publisher knew that the allegation was true, it may find it difficult to persusade a Jury with sufficient evidence that that is the case.

A Defendant has to be very careful when raising truth because it is likely that the Defendant will be penalised if not successful.

Honest Opinion

If your opponent can prove that the defamatory statement is an expression of opinion and not a statement of fact, he or she can rely on the defence of honest opinion.

The comment must be based on true facts which are either contained in the publication or are sufficiently referred to. It is for your opponent to prove that the underlying facts are true. If they are unable to do so, then the defence will fail. The defendant does not to have to prove the truth of every fact provided the comment was fair in relation to those facts which are proved. The views expressed can be exaggerated, obstinate or prejudiced, provided they are honestly held. If you can show that the opinion was not honestly held then the defence will not succeed.


If untrue defamatory allegations are published on an occasion of privilege, they will be protected from a claim for defamation. It is recognised that in certain situations it is to the benefit of society generally for people to be able to communicate without the fear of being sued for defamation.

Absolute Privilege

Absolute privilege will provide a complete defence regardless even when the allegation is untrue or malicious. It covers proceedings in Parliament or the courts in England and Wales.

Qualified Privilege

The Defamation Act details circumstances when a report is privilged except when malice can be proved.

  • A fair and accurate report of proceedings in public of a legislature or court anywhere in the world.
  • A public inquiry or proceedings in public of government or leglisature anywhere in the world.
  • A fair and accurate copy of or extract from any register or other document required by law to be open to public inspection.
  • A notice or advertisement published by or on the authority of a court, or of a judge or officer of a court, anywhere in the world.
  • fair and accurate copy of or extract from matter published by or on the authority of a government or legislature anywhere in the world.
  • fair and accurate copy of or extract from matter published anywhere in the world by an international organisation or an international conference.

However if requested to publish a letter or statement by way of an explanation or contradiction and that person refuses or neglects to do so then there is no defence.

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