By Paul Mitchell

The trendy legislations of defamation is often criticized for being superseded, imprecise or even incomprehensible. The Making of the trendy legislations of Defamation explains how and why the legislations has become because it is by means of delivering an ancient research of its improvement from the seventeenth century to the current day. whereas the first concentration of this publication is the legislation of britain, it additionally makes wide use of comparative universal legislations fabrics from jurisdictions reminiscent of Australia, South Africa, the us and Scotland. This e-book should be crucial studying for somebody attracted to the legislations of defamation, in media legislation and within the dating among loose speech and the legislation.

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Therefore the words were not actionable. So, in 1831 a stable position had been established for slander affecting the claimant’s business. Words imputing either the lack of some general requisite, or some kind of professional misconduct were actionable because their natural tendency was to cause a loss of employment. Unlike in libel, the emphasis was on losing work, not losing reputation, with the result that an actionable allegation of professional incapacity need not expose the claimant to ridicule.

It is difficult to see why malice should be the key analytical concept here. It was well established that proof of speaking the words raised a presumption of malice against the defendant. Such a presumption could be rebutted13 but it is incorrect to say that speaking defamatory words once ‘suggested no malice’; the opposite was true. Indeed, the reference to writing having ‘more malice’ suggested that Hale CB regarded spoken words as having some malice already. Furthermore, Kaye’s construction of the reasoning behind the decision interprets the phrase ‘general words’ as meaning words falling outside the recognised categories of words actionable without proof of damage.

In Virginia the assimilation was of libel to slander, a change not without academic support64. Although the first Virginian case on the point may have accomplished assimilation by accident65, a line of later cases has emphatically asserted that assimilation has taken place66. In one of the more recent decisions the Supreme Court of Virginia refused counsel’s invitation to overrule the earlier cases, saying that there was ‘no logical reason’67 to do so. It is hard to disagree. As a matter of logic applying the same rules to all cases of defamation, whether written or spoken, cannot be challenged.

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