Defamation Laws In Ireland
Ireland has traditionally defined defamation as the publishing false statements that cause ridicule or contempt to a person’s or business’ reputation. Most laymen understand defamation as a statement that “besmirches one’s good name.” Ireland’s Constitution protects the “right to one’s good name.”
Ireland’s Defamation Act of 2009
Replacing a 1960s law, the Defamation Act of 2009 significantly altered Irish defamation law by:
- Eliminating a material difference between slander (spoken defamation) and libel (written defamation).
- Reducing the statute of limitations from 6 to 1 (in rare circumstances 2) years.
- Changing how defamation affidavits must be processed; now, both parties must verify accounts.
- Allowing for new types of defamation remedies.
- Formally stating that online defamation is defamation — and that the number of people who actually view a webpage will have an impact on whether or not something is deemed defamatory.
- Altering various defamation definitions.
Go here to read a comprehensive summary of Ireland’s Defamation Act of 2009.
Valuation of Defamation in Ireland
Since defamation relates directly to reputation, most cases hinge upon measuring the impact of an action against the value of the reputation, be it personal or professional.
Reputation damage causes tons of difficulties that will adversely affect your professional life — and possibly your overall quality of life.
Elements of Defamation in Ireland
In Ireland, plaintiffs must prove three things:
- That the statement in question was widely heard or read. Personal comments made between two people are not considered defamatory.
- That the statement in question is false.
- That the statement was about the plaintiff.
Libel Reform Campaign Underway In Ireland
As is the case in nearby EU countries, a libel reform campaign is underway in Ireland. Essentially, there is a push for more free speech-friendly defamation statutes that include “substantial truth” considerations. Right now, journalists and bloggers are often censured for small mistakes and strong opinions.
Sammy Wilson, the ex-finance minister of Northern Ireland, had previously prevented libel reform from taking place. Simon Hamilton, his successor, reintroduced the reform as a topic of discussion. Then, the Unionist leader, Mike Nesbitt, made it all happen by creating the bill for reform and introducing it at Stormont.