Guide to Defamation, Libel, and Slander in Ireland


If you feel you have been the victim of Defamation, Libel or Slander, you need to speak to an experienced solicitor who can guide you through this specialist area. Defamation, libel and slander cases require an expert strategic guide with an even mix of boldness, sensitivity and discretion. This is because the wrong action can backfire and bring even more unwanted attention and loss.

As experienced defamation solicitors we can usually tell you quickly whether you are likely to receive an apology, and can provide a guide to compensation for the damage to your reputation from any act of libel or slander taken against you.

We offer a free defamation advice line, where you can call us in complete confidence to discuss the merits of your case. There is no charge or obligation for this service.

Requirements for Defamation, Libel and Slander Cases in Ireland

1) Taking a defamation case can be a costly business and should therefore only be considered if the person or body who has made the offending comments has the financial wherewithal to pay you damages and costs in the event your action is successful. If not, you could be left with a hefty legal bill despite winning your case.

2) You will need to know exactly what has been said or publicised, as It is not sufficient to allege that unknown defamatory remarks have been made about you. When assessing your potential case we will need the exact content from you in order to clearly ascertain if a defamation has transpired.

3) The verbalising or publishing of any remarks about you should have been relatively wide. For example if a slanderous comment was made directly to you and could have been overheard by a couple of third parties this will not usually be sufficient grounds for a defamation case.

You can read more in our short guide below.

A Short Guide to Defamation, Libel and Slander in Ireland

We are now governed by the Defamation Act 2009, a significant piece of legislation that largely restored fairness and stability to a difficult area of the law.

Libel and slander are the two forms of defamation. Historically, libel was the written form of defamation, while slander was the spoken form. However with the arrival of the Internet these definitions are now outdated, and a defamatory statement broadcast on radio or television or the Internet would be regarded as libel and not slander.

There are three parts to any defamation claim. The comments must have been communicated to a third party, they must refer to the claimant, and they must be false.

There are, a number of defences against a defamation action which are designed to balance our right to free expression.

1) Justification: truth is always a valid defence to for a defamation claim, even if a statement was not wholly true.

2) Privilege: on occasions the law will recognise a person’s right to free expression, and they will will be granted immunity.

3) Public interest: if the comments were made in relation to a matter of public interest and were fair and honest.

You cannot make a defamation defence based on the fact that you apologised afterwards or offered to apologise.

Right now, the easiest next step is to call our free defamation advice line on our freephone number or if you cannot speak now, simply fill in the contact form below to request a call from us at any time that is convenient for you.

The Press Council of Ireland and the Press Ombudsman

In January 2008 both the Press Council of Ireland and the Office of the Press Ombudsman were established providing us with access to an independent press complaints mechanism. You should still talk to a solicitor about any complaint of defamation you have as a first step, in order to protect your rights most effectively.

The objectives of the Press Council and the Press Ombudsman are:

1) To provide an independent forum for resolving complaints about the press;

2) To resolve complaints quickly, fairly and free of charge;

3) To maintain the highest standards of Irish journalism and journalistic ethics;

4) To defend the freedom of the press, and the freedom of the public to be informed.

In 2009, the public made 351 complaints to the Press Ombudsman, an increase of 5% on 2008. Complaints about truth and accuracy accounted for the majority of objections, followed by concerns about privacy.