Defamation in Commercial Disputes

The law of defamation - libel and slander - has, historically, been relatively strict and has been used by businesses to prevent criticism of their behaviour, products and services. It is, of course, a defence if the party sued for defamation can prove, on the balance of probabilities, that their criticisms of the business are substantially true, but many honest opinions voiced are based on a combination of knowledge of facts - e.g. poor service received - and reasonable suppositions about a businesses' intentions, methods, competence and ways of working, some of which might be difficult to prove strictly. It has for some time been recognised that the strictness of the law can be used by businesses to stifle the exchange of honest opinions by their customers, and this ultimately works against the public interest because an effective market for goods and services depends of the ready availability of information, including the opinions of customers, satisfied and unsatisfied, about suppliers for any given product or service.

The Defamation Act 2013 amends the law to protect those who express honest opinions. Section 3 provides a defence of "honest opinion" where a statement of opinion indicates (at least in general terms) what it is based on, and it is an opinion which an honest person could have held on the basis of any fact which existed at the time.


The above explanation of the law is only an overview and in order to be reasonably concise I have had to leave some details out - details which are likely to affect what the law would say about your own situation. So please do not rely on the above but Contact me for advice   

This page was lasted updated in October 2015          Disclaimer