Book

Defamation and Freedom of Speech

Dario Milo

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780199204922
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191709449 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199204922.001.0001
Defamation and Freedom of Speech

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The law of defamation contemplates the clash of two fundamental rights: the right to freedom of expression and the right to reputation. The rules of defamation law are designed to mediate between these two rights. The central proposition that this book makes is that defamation law needs to be reformed to balance the conflicting rights. This discussion flows from a theoretical analysis of the rights in issue; the value underlying the right to reputation that has most resonance is human dignity, while the value that is most apposite to freedom of expression in this context is the argument that free speech is integral to democracy. The argument from democracy emphasizes that speech on matters of public interest should receive greater protection than private speech. This book argues that fundamental rules of defamation law need to be reformed to take into account the dual importance of public interest speech on the one hand, and the right to human dignity on the other. In particular, the presumptions that defamatory allegations are false and have caused damage, the principle of strict liability to primary publishers and negligence liability to secondary publishers, and the availability of punitive damages, should not survive constitutional scrutiny. The quantum of damages and costs rules, and the remedies available in defamation cases, should also be reformed to reflect the importance of dignity to the claimant, and the free speech interest of the public in receiving accurate information on matters of public interest.

Keywords: defamation law; freedom of expression; reputation; free speech; public interest speech

Book.  384 pages. 

Subjects: civil law

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Table of Contents

Introductionin Defamation and Freedom of Speech

Chapter

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The Right to Reputationin Defamation and Freedom of Speech

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Public Speechin Defamation and Freedom of Speech

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The Presumption of Falsityin Defamation and Freedom of Speech

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Fault and Defamation Liabilityin Defamation and Freedom of Speech

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Aspects of Damages and Costsin Defamation and Freedom of Speech

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Alternative Remediesin Defamation and Freedom of Speech

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Conclusionin Defamation and Freedom of Speech

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