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Publication (Defamation) Notes

Irish BCL Notes > Irish Tort Law Notes

This is an extract of our Publication (Defamation) document, which we sell as part of our Irish Tort Law Notes collection written by the top tier of Trinity College Dublin students.

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Minimal Publication, Repetition/Seeking out of Publication Defamation Act, 1961 - s.14(2)
? Any reference to words in this part of the act shall be construed as including a reference to visual images, gestures and other methods of signifying meaning Defamation Bill - s.5 (2)
? The Tort of defamation consists of the publication, by any means, of a defamatory statement
? (s.2) 'statement' includes
? any statement made orally or in writing
? visual images, sounds, gestures and any other method of signifying meaning
? a statement
# broadcast on radio or television
# published on the internet
? an electronic communication

Berry v Irish Times (SC 1972) Facts

1. The plaintiff claimed that he had been defamed when the defendants published a photograph of a person carrying a sign with allegedly defamatory material printed on it. IssuePublication

Judgment

1. O Dalaigh CJ
? The photograph constituted publication.

2. Walsh J (concurred)

3. Budd J (concurred)

4. Fitzgerald J

5. McLoughlin J

Jameel v Dow Jones (CA 2005) Facts

1. The defendants' website contained a link which directed readers to a list of people it alleged supported al Qaeda, one of whom was the plaintiff.

2. The defendants adduced evidence to the effect that only five subscribers to its website clicked on the link. IssueMinimal Publication - Whether actionable

Judgment (Philips LJ MR)
? The English law on the subject is that the presumption of damage to the plaintiff in a defamation case is irrebuttable, hence the number of people to whom the publication is made is irrelevant.
? This law should not be rejected - the situations where a plaintiff launches a defamation suit having suffered no damage will be rare, owing to the costs of such suits, hence the law does not have a chilling effect on journalism and does not infringe Article 10 ECHR.
? However where a plaintiff takes a defamation action in circumstances where his reputation has suffered little or no damage, the court may award costs against him or alternatively strike out the case as an abuse of process.
? In this case, the plaintiff had reason to believe the publication was much larger than it turned out to be - however his claim should still be struck out.
? It is unlikely that Duke of Brunswick's Case would today have survived an application to strike out for abuse of process as his action was of such a technical nature.
? As a result of the minimal publication, and the fact that a considerable number of those who clicked on the link were agents of the plaintiff, this case should be struck out for abuse of process.

Stern v Piper (CA 1996) Facts

1. The defendants published defamatory comments about the plaintiff that were quoted from an affirmation made against him in a pending court case IssueRepetition of Publication - Whether Actionable

Judgment

1. Hirst LJ
? The repetition of a statement constitutes a new publication.
? This rule applies even to repetitions of affirmations made in court.

2. Simon Brown LJ
? The repetition rule exists to prevent juries coming to the conclusion that a publication that conveys rumour, hearsay, repetition etc is true or bears a less defamatory meaning than the original statement.

3. Sir Ralph Gibson (concurred)

Irish People's Assurance v Dublin City Assurance (SC 1928) Facts

1. The plaintiffs claimed that the publication of a certain document by the defendants carried the defamatory meaning that they were insolvent.

2. The defendants claimed that one of the publications complained of, i.e. to the plaintiffs' agent, was not actionable as it was brought about by the plaintiffs themselves in a deceptive manner. IssueSeeking out publication - whether actionable

Judgment

1. Kennedy CJ (concurring - agreed with Fitzgibbon J)

2. Fitzgibbon J (concurring)
? If the defendants' contention were law, it would be impossible in many cases to prove publication at all.
? The case law on the subject states that this sort of publication is sufficient to establish liability on its own and not a ground to reduce damages

3. Murnaghan J (dissenting)

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