V. Loss and compensation

Generally speaking, in defamation cases, damages are awarded by the court as compensation for injury ("injury" means anything suffered by the plaintiff) but not as punishment for wrong doing. The purpose of the compensation is to restore the plaintiff to his or her former position as far as money can do.

In assessing the damages/compensation, the court has to consider the seriousness of the defamation as well as other factors including the plaintiff's financial loss, injury to the plaintiff's feelings and reputation, the extent of the publication, and any mitigating factors. In other words, it may not be necessary to prove that the plaintiff has suffered financial loss.

As explained in section I , if the defamatory matter is "libel" (i.e. in writing or in some other permanent form), damage to the plaintiff is presumed from the beginning. If the defamatory matter is a "slander" (i.e. by word of mouth or in some transient/temporary form), the plaintiff may have to prove to the court that he or she has suffered some financial and/or non-financial loss caused by the defamatory matter.

  1. My rival is spreading rumours that goods supplied by my company are defective. These rumours are affecting my business substantially. Is there anything I can do to stop it?
  2. Is the conduct and the intention of parties in a defamation lawsuit important when it comes to the assessment of compensation?