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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49851
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Do I have grounds for a libel case against someone at work

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Do I have grounds for a libel case against someone at work who wrote: "we all know you have your favourite students and use them to undermine staff" I work in the education sector and i am currently looking for a position as head teacher or principal and feel that such an assertion damages my credibility by casting doubt on my professional integrity.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

Who were the comments made to?

Customer: They were written in document attached to an email sent to me and copied to two other people. I also believe this view was shared with other members of staff.
Ben Jones :

ok let me get my response ready please

Ben Jones :

Whilst this may appear to be a potential case of defamation (this includes libel if it is in written form, or slander if it is in oral form), such claims are extremely difficult to pursue. Many people are intent on suing for defamation without having any appreciation of the law behind them, so I will try and clear things up for you now.


First of all, certain conditions must be met for the statement to be classified as defamatory. These are:


1. The statement has to be untrue.

2. It must directly identify the complainant.

3. It must have been published, usually communicated to at least another person.

4. It must be in a form of words, which would tend to lower the claimant in the estimation of ‘right thinking members of society generally', expose the claimant to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or cause the claimant to be shunned or avoided.

5. Its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant.


Whilst it may be easy to prove that defamation has occurred, the legal process of pursuing such a claim is extremely complex and expensive. As this goes through the High Court, you would need the professional help of specialist defamation solicitors and the costs are undoubtedly going to run into the thousands right at the outset. Also there is no legal aid available for such claims so the complainant must fund these personally. So when you hear about defamation claims being made, these are usually pursued by big corporations or celebrities who have a public image to protect.


You must also consider whether the party alleged of making the defamatory statement can defend the claim. Even if you satisfy the criteria to prove the statement was defamatory it could be defended on a number of grounds, including by providing evidence that the statement was substantially true or an honest opinion.


There is of course nothing stopping you from contacting the other party and threatening them that what they have done amounts to defamation and that you will consider pursuing the matter further if they do not retract their statement. This could prompt them to reconsider their position, but I would not recommend that you actually proceed with a claim for defamation due to the issues highlighted above. You can also pursue any internal processes available to you, such as an appeal or the grievance procedure.

Customer: I believe that my issue meets the criteria but appreciate what yo have said about the process and costs. I had considered the idea of a letter threatening legal action and if I were o go down this route is the a template that I could use?
Ben Jones :

A letter that a solicitor may use can be found here:

Just use it as a pointer, without going into all the detail they have, such as case law

Customer: Ok. Than you.
Ben Jones :

you are most welcome

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