Another thing you need to consider before bringing a defamation action is whether or not the statements were “privileged.” Even if a statement is completely false, defamatory, and would otherwise be actionable, the law provides for certain “safe harbors” to make defamatory communications.

Privileges can either be “absolute” or “qualified.” An absolute privilege acts as absolute immunity to a claim for defamation. If the absolute privilege applies, you can make any defamatory statement for the most malicious and hurtful reason possible and you cannot be sued.

If the “qualified” privilege applies, then you will typically be immune from suit for defamation, but that immunity may be overcome under certain circumstances, such as if the statement was motivated solely by malice, a lack of honest belief in the truth of the statement, or other limited circumstances.

An understanding of these privileges is vital to the decision to bring a claim for defamation, and an exploration of when and under what circumstances these privileges apply will take place in future blog postings.

Michael L. Kitchen

Disclaimer: This blog is for information purposes only. Legal advice is provided only through a formal, written attorney/client agreement.