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Compensation for Reputation Defamation

Individuals who believe they have been defamed by someone else can sue for compensation. 

Companies whose profits or reputation have been damaged can also claim. Non-trading corporations can also claim where they can prove that their fiscal situation has been affected, or their property damaged.

Once the 2013 Defamation Act comes into force it will be necessary for comments to have caused 'serious harm' for them to be considered defamatory. Serious harm equates to serious financial loss for businesses.

Compensation for defamation can sometimes be difficult to quantify – an organization or individual could quantify the amount for which they should be compensated if they have hard evidence of financial loss due to being defamed – for example, if a company loses business after being defamed, or an individual loses work, they can point to specific financial losses which occurred as a result of being targeted by libel or slander.

However, defamation can have negative consequences in ways beyond the purely financial – defamation can be a source of great distress and emotional turmoil for the defamed party. General damages can be sought to compensate the claimant for the impact on their reputation.

Groups which cannot make defamation claims

Trade unions are excluded from claiming for defamation, though individuals who are part of a union may claim if they are personally mentioned or are damaged.

Groups who are not considered to exist as an entity with legal personality cannot claim for defamation. This means, for example, that groups of people who are racially abused, unless they are targeted as individuals, cannot claim for defamation.

This is because an ethnic group does not have legal personality as though it were an entity itself and it has no legal existence separate from the individuals who constitute it; instead the rights of the group are enshrined in each individual who makes up a part of the whole.

If an individual from that group is targeted for specific racial abuse, they are able to claim for defamation. Defamation is unlike other cases of compensation in that there is no possibility of a posthumous claim on behalf of an individual. If a claim has been begun then it will cease with the death of the claimant.

Time limits for defamation claims

A defamation claim generally has only a year from the act of slander or libel in which to commence. Urgent legal advice should be sought regarding the time limit applicable in a particular case.