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Defamation: What to Do if Someone is Trying to Damage Your Reputation


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The laws of defamation in the UK are intended to protect the reputations of both individuals and companies.

Online platforms like social media websites and apps have come under significant scrutiny for allowing and hosting numerous defamatory remarks. Whether these statements appear as tweets, videos, reviews, articles, or other types of comments, defamatory content can significantly harm an individual’s personal life and professional endeavours.

What is Defamation?

In the UK, defamation refers to the communication of false statements that harm the reputation of an individual or entity. It can take two forms: 

  1. Libel – which involves permanent forms of communication such as in writing or broadcasts, and;
  2. Slander – which pertains to transient forms such as speech or gestures.

Defamation encompasses statements that cause or are likely to cause serious harm to a person’s or organisation’s reputation, regardless of whether the statements were made maliciously or out of ignorance. If such statements have been made within the last 12 months, it may be possible to bring a claim for defamation.

Is Audience Size a Big Factor?

Although a defamatory statement reaching a wider readership may heighten the potential for harm, the size of the audience alone does not dictate the severity of the damage. For instance, a defamatory remark made within a private social media group, despite its limited audience, could be as detrimental as a statement which has been broadcast to a larger public forum.

Responding to Online Defamation

The initial step in responding to online defamation is typically to reach out to the individual who posted the defamatory statement, demanding its removal, clarification of the contents, and potentially financial compensation for any loss and/or damage suffered as a result of the defamatory statements. 

You should also consider contacting the relevant websites and social media platforms as they may have their own established guidelines prohibiting defamatory content. Therefore, it may be advantageous to contact the relevant platform early on, requesting the removal of the statement. 

Legal proceedings may become necessary, seeking a court order for the removal of the defamatory statement, monetary damages, and other remedies, including an injunction. 

Furthermore, depending on the specific circumstances of the case, exploring additional legal avenues such as claims for misuse of private information, breach of confidentiality, and/or data protection breaches may prove beneficial in addressing the situation.

Defences to a Defamation Claim

In cases of defamation, the defence of ‘truth’ serves as a complete defence; however, the burden of proof rests on the defendant to establish the veracity of the statement, which can pose a challenge.

If the truth cannot be conclusively proven, the defence of ‘honest opinion’ may be a viable alternative option. Nevertheless, this defence is subject to several conditions and may fail where if it can be shown that the defendant did not hold this opinion.

Depending on the specific circumstances of the case, other defences may also be applicable and should be explored.

Initial Measures When Addressing Online Defamation

  1. Evidence Preservation: The transient nature of online platforms necessitates the preservation of evidence, as posts can be rapidly deleted or edited. Therefore, it is important to capture screenshots and record the time and date of any potentially defamatory statements, as this could serve as crucial evidence in the event of legal action.
  2. Avoid Direct Engagement: It is advisable to refrain from contacting the individual responsible for the defamatory statement until evidence has been secured and legal counsel has been sought. This could minimise the risk of inadvertently compromising a potential claim through actions taken without the guidance of a legal professional.
  3. Prompt Legal Advice: Given the limited time frame in which a defamation claim can be brought, i.e., within 12 months from the first publication of the statement, it is important that prompt legal action is taken.

In today’s interconnected world, reputation management and defamation have become increasingly intertwined. Individuals and businesses must remain vigilant in monitoring their online presence, proactively managing reputation risks, and seeking legal recourse when faced with defamatory content. By adopting a proactive approach to reputation management and leveraging legal remedies effectively, individuals and businesses can protect their reputations, safeguard their interests, and preserve their credibility in an ever-evolving digital landscape.

Defamation Solicitors – Contact Us

If you believe you have been defamed or are facing a defamation claim, seeking legal advice is recommended to fully understand your rights and options.

For further information, contact Associate Solicitor Faiza Raqeeb at 020 7613 7126 or via email at


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Faiza Raqeeb

Associate Solicitor

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