Q:

What constitutes defamation of character in the U.K.?

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Quick Answer

Under U.K. law, defamation of character centers in large part on the causing of material harm. With regard to business entities, a statement about a business entity is only defamatory from a legal standpoint if it has caused or is likely to cause harm to the profit margins of that business, according to The National Archives.

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Full Answer

In the U.K., the fact of a statement being true fundamentally prevents it from falling under the umbrella of defamation of character. The simple notion of a statement being highly negative is not enough to make it illegal; defamation only comes into play if that statement spreads a notion that is untrue. Further, if a statement is a two-pronged one and one of its components is true while the other is untrue, the statement as a whole is only legally defamatory if the victim can show that the untrue portion has caused or is likely to cause harm to her reputation, states The National Archives.

Another area of discourse that the U.K. does not define as defamation is opinion. If a writer shares that she thinks or believes something negative about a person or entity and does not frame that opinion as fact, it is legal for her to do so, according to The National Archives.

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