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Defences to defamation
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Defences to defamation

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  • 1. DEFENCES TODEFAMATION
  • 2. 1. Justification or truthIf the publication complained aboutis true, entirely or evensubstantially, it can form a soliddefence to defamation. But theonus ison the defendant who pleadsjustification to prove that thepublication istrue.
  • 3. 2. Fair CommentIt is also a defence againstdefamation if the defendant canprove that thepublication complained about isa fair comment made in theinterest ofthe public.
  • 4. For a comment to be “faircomment” itmust satisfy the followingconditions.1. The matter commented on mustbe of public interest.2. The matter commented on mustbe an expression of opinion bythe defendant and not an assertionof fact by him.3. The comment on the plaintiff
  • 5. 3. PrivilegePrivilege means a benefit orimmunity enjoyed by someoneor a class ofpeople which does not apply tothe general public.
  • 6. In communication,privilege is the freedom enjoyedin certain circumstanceswherebystatements can be madewithout the bogey of an actionof defamation.
  • 7. As a defence againstdefamation privilege is in twokinds: absolute andqualified privilege.
  • 8. (a) Absolute PrivilegeAbsolute privilege is theunhindered liberty to makestatementsorally or in written form to theextent that anyone who feels thathe has been defamed by thestatement cannot seek redress in alaw court, nor can the courtentertain such as action. This isregardless of whether the
  • 9. Those who enjoy absolute privilege in the courts of theirofficialduties include the Head of State, governors, High Courtjudges,magistrates, even lawyers and witnesses, legislators. Thusnoaction can be brought against any of the above mentionedif theydefame any one in the course of their official duties. Also,communication between husband and wife enjoys absoluteprivilege.
  • 10. (b) Qualified PrivilegeThere is qualified privilege to makedefamatory statements whenthe person who makes it has a duty, legal,social or moral, tomake it and the person to whom it is madehas a duty, legal,social or moral, to receive it. However, thestatement must havebeen made honestly and without malice.For, malice defeatsprivilege.
  • 11. Qualified Privileges ofNewspapers
  • 12. newspaper reports enjoy qualified privilege if theysatisfy thefollowing criteria. They are fair and accurate reports of legislative proceedings. They are fair and accurate reports of the public proceedings of the conference of an international organization of which Nigeria or any of its states is a member. They are fair and accurate reports of any public proceedings of an international court.
  • 13. newspaper reports enjoy qualified privilege if theysatisfy thefollowing criteria. They are fair and accurate reports of any proceedings in public of a body or person appointed to hold a public enquiry by the government or legislature of any part of the Commonwealth outside Nigeria. They are fair accurate reports of any reports of any proceedings before a court exercising jurisdiction throughout any part of the Commonwealth outside Nigeria under the Nigerian Army Act 1990 or the Nigerian Navy Act, 1990.
  • 14. newspaper reports enjoy qualified privilege if theysatisfy thefollowing criteria. They are fair and accurate copies or extracts from any register kept in pursuance of any law or Act which is open to inspection by the public or any other document which is required by any law or Act to be open to inspection by the public. Notice of advertisement published by or on the authority of a court within Nigeria or office of such court.
  • 15. If a person willingly invites thepress to cover his function or hegrantsan interview on his own volition,then the press can plead consent iftheperson turns round to bring anaction of defamation. However, ifthepublication goes beyond the limit ofthe initial approval, there may be
  • 16. 5. Death of the PlaintiffIf the person allegedly defamedis dead, it will be difficult tosustain theaction because reputation is apersonal possession and onlythe owner ofthe reputation can sue for it.
  • 17. 6. Res JudicataIf a case of defamation hasbeen tried, lost and won, it willbe a waste oftime to file a fresh action on thesame matter. Res judicata is tosay thatthe case has come to a logicalend and had died a naturaldeath.
  • 18. 7. Accord and SatisfactionIt shall be a defence todefamation if there is a mutualsettlementbetween the two parties to thesatisfaction of both of them.
  • 19. The person circulating the offensivematter can plead that he is ignorantof what he is disseminating andshould therefore be excluded fromanylegal action. The plaintiff and thecourt usually exonerates thiscategoryof persons especially in view of thefact that they cannot pay anydamages should the case be