Can I Bring A Claim for Libel or Slander?
Judith Thompson 09-11-2023
If someone has been spreading lies about you to your family, friends, employer or work colleagues, is it possible to sue them? The answer is yes, provided that the lies are significant enough to have caused serious harm to your reputation.
When someone says something about you which is untrue, the consequences can be devastating - your friends and family can stop talking to you, you can be ostracised from work colleagues, you could be expelled from social groups or clubs and, in some cases, you could even lose your job. In any of those cases, it might be possible for you to claim compensation.
If you want to start a claim for libel or slander, the first step is to send a letter of claim to the person who has lied about you. The letter of claim must set out what exactly has been said about you, what those untrue words mean, and it needs to provide detail of the harm which has been caused to you. In a lot of slander cases, you will also have to prove that you have suffered financial loss as a result of the lies, but this does not apply to libel cases.
What is a cease and desist letter? A cease and desist letter is a very short letter, which effectively asks your opponent to stop spreading lies about you. It is a term which is used very widely in defamation claims in the United States. In England and Wales, it is always better to start off a claim for defamation with a letter of claim.
Once the letter of claim has been sent, your opponent has a short period of time in which to respond. In the response, the defendant should say whether they agree with your interpretation of what the words mean, and they should offer remedies, if they agree that you have been defamed.
If your opponent does not offer you any remedies, or if they simply ignore your letter of claim, you can sue them for slander or libel.
All claims for libel and slander are dealt with in the High Court. It is important that the claim is started properly, as it can be very expensive and time consuming to try to put right a claim which has not started in the correct way.
It is fairly unusual for a case for defamation (libel or slander) to go all the way to a trial, but it does happen, and these cases can attract a lot of media attention.