Qualified Privilege of Bona Fide Words Under Duty
The defence of qualified privilege arises where the statement in question was bona fide and without malicious intent to injure: ‘In general, an action lies for the malicious publication of statements which are false in fact, and injurious to the character of another (within the well-known limits as to verbal slander), and the law considers such publication as malicious, unless it is fairly made by a person in the discharge of some public or private duty, whether legal or moral, or in the conduct of his own affairs, in matters where his interest is concerned. In such cases, the occasion prevents the inference of malice, which the law draws from unauthorised communications, and affords a qualified defence depending upon the absence of actual malice. If fairly warranted by any reasonable occasion or exigency, and honestly made, such communications are protected for the common convenience and welfare of society; and the law has not restricted the right to make them within any narrow limits.’
(1834) 1 CM and R 181,  EngR 363, (1834) 1 CrM and R 181, (1834) 149 ER 1044
England and Wales
Cited – Downtex v Flatley CA 2-Oct-2003
The claimants sought damages for defamation and breach of contract. The claimants had purchased a business from the defendant, which contract included a clause requiring the defendant to say nothing damaging about the business. The defendant . .
Cited – Loveless v Earl; Capital and Counties (Financial Services) Limited CA 4-Nov-1998
When a defendant claimed qualified privilege and the Plaintiff alleged that the words complained of were issued with malice, the defendant will not prevented from reliance on qualified privilege if it can show that the words have an honestly . .
Cited – Reynolds v Times Newspapers Ltd and others HL 28-Oct-1999
Fair Coment on Political Activities
The defendant newspaper had published articles wrongly accusing the claimant, the former Prime Minister of Ireland of duplicity. The paper now appealed, saying that it should have had available to it a defence of qualified privilege because of the . .
Cited – Watts v Times Newspapers Ltd, Neil, Palmer and Schilling and Lom CA 28-Jul-1995
The plaintiff author had claimed damages for defamation, saying that he had been accused of plagiarism. An apology had been given in the form requested – no qualified privilege. The plaintiff brought an associated case against his lawyer, saying . .
Cited – Loutchansky v Times Newspapers Limited (No 2) CA 12-Mar-2001
The defendants appealed against a refusal to allow them to amend their pleadings. They wished to include allegations as to matters which were unknown to the journalist at the time of publication.
Held: It is necessary for the defendants to . .
Cited – Clift v Slough Borough Council and Another QBD 6-Jul-2009
The claimant sought damages for defamation. The council had decided that she had threatened a member of staff and notified various people, and entered her name on a violent persons register. She alleged malice, the council pleaded justification and . .
Cited – Clift v Slough Borough Council CA 21-Dec-2010
The court was asked how, if at all, the Human Rights Act 1998 has affected a local authority’s defence of qualified privilege in defamation cases. The claimant had been placed on the Council’s Violent Persons Register after becoming very upset and . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.186628