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Joshua, Lawyer
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 26069
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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how do i take someone to court for slander

Customer Question

how do i take someone to court for slander?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 5 years ago.
Hello and thank you for your question, which I will gladly help with. Please let me know what has been said so far?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
My previous partner, the father to both of my children has posted things on facebook claiming i have abused my children, been unfaithful etc, i have a copy of everything he has said. The main post includes my name and allegations of abuse which i want to take him to court for. As a result of this post someone made an anonymous referral to social services and my family is now being investigated, this has obviously had a negative effect on my children and my reputation.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 5 years ago.
Whilst this may be a potential case of defamation (a false written/oral statement made without justification), it is unfortunately quite difficult to pursue.

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

1. There has to be an untruthful and defamatory statement made in the first place.
2. The statement must identify the claimant.
3. The statement must have been communicated to a third party (i.e. the comments have to be made sufficiently public).
4. The statement 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. The claimant must have suffered some form of special damage as a result of the defamatory comments (usually required to be some form of actual or potential financial damage, although damage to reputation can also be considered).

So consider whether all of the above criteria have been met. Even if they have, the only way to pursue a claim for defamation is through the High Court. This always makes such claims very complex and they require the professional help of specialist defamation lawyers. As such, the claims are also very expensive and the case would cost thousands of pounds and take quite a long time. There is no legal aid for making a defamation claim so the claimant has to fund it in full.

Next, you need to consider whether the defendant will be able to successfully defend the claim. The following are acceptable defences for a defamation claim:
• Justification – by showing that the statement was true;
• Fair comment – if the comment was a view that a reasonable person could have held, even if they were motivated by dislike or hatred of the claimant;

An alternative to a full claim for defamation is obtaining a court injunction to prevent the publishing of similar comments in the future, however that again involves applications to court and they are not always granted.

Based on the above, it is evident that defamation is a complex and expensive area with no guarantee of success. I would therefore advise against pursuing a court claim for defamation. A possible alternative is to make a complaint of harassment to the police, who can still take formal action, but it would not cost you anything.

Please press Accept and I can expand my answer and provide more detailed advice and guidance as required. I will also answer any specific questions you may have. Thank you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
i was told that i could take the person to court myself with out needing a lawyer, and that i could do this through the small claims court, is this an option, and if so what evidence do i need, and how do i prepare?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 5 years ago.
No, you can't make a claim for slander in the small claims court, you can only do that in thr High Court. You can only sue in the small claims court for monetary disputes such as breach of contract, negligence, etc

I would be grateful if you could please press Accept for the advice given so far, many thanks
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
so how would i go about going to the high court?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 5 years ago.
That's where the problem arises and you need to check my original answer - do you have £10,000 - £20,000 spare to make the claim? Because you won't be able to do it on your own and will need to get solicitors to do that for you.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
i simply dont have that sort of money. Is there anything else i could do rather than take him to court?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 5 years ago.
(Edited by Moderator)
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.
i need to know how to take someone to court for slander, what type of court and if i can go with out a lawyer and represent myself, in addition are there any other ways i can settle the matter outside of court?
Expert:  Joshua replied 5 years ago.
Welcome to JustAnswer! If you've any queries once you've read my answer do ask. When satisfied, kindly click the Green ACCEPT button.

It is not recommended to represent yourself as these are not straightforward cases to argue for a layperson but there is no rule that states that you cannot.

You can have defamation cases heard in the County Court but they tend to be heard in the High Court is the damages claimed are substantial.

You can issue proceedings using form N244

However I would strongly advise you to consider a conditional fee agreement (no win no fee) to pursue this matter as you will very likely prejudice your case by not doing so.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
So, if i can find a solicitor who does no win no fee, will i actually not pay a penny unless i win? The fact is, if i do win, im not going to get anywhere near enough compensation to even pay the solicitors, so surely that almost defeats the point?

So personally the only option i can see is to go it alone, reading the link you sent it says something about not paying court fees? Does this mean if i represented myself,and the court costs was wavered, i could take the person to court and not pay anything?

Expert:  Joshua replied 5 years ago.
There are different types of arrangement and sometimes you have a proportion to pay and sometimes not. Some solicitors require you to pay some expenses others not but substantively that is correct.

In terms of your specific complaint you might be better to consider claiming for harassment. This is generally an easier case to pursue and less expensive than defamation and it is easier to represent yourself. You could seek injunctive relief and damages for harassment. I agree that compensation is not likely to be substantial enough to justify a defamation suit.

To apply for a restraining order against your partner you can apply on form N16A and to claim damages you need the same form N244 as above. You can also make a report to the police but they can be variable in the interest they take in such matters.

Ref court fees you can apply for a reduction or remissio of court fees but normally only if you are on a low income and on benefits.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
i reported the incident to the police they said it was not harassment as i could only prove one post was about me, even though the others were, my name wasn't included, and therefore they said it was not a criminal but a civil matter. So they were of no help at all.

But if i take him to court for harassment, can it be a "one off" statement that im taking him to court for, or does there have to be a long list of events etc?
Expert:  Joshua replied 5 years ago.
(Edited by Moderator)
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 26069
Experience: LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
Joshua and other UK Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Joshua replied 5 years ago.
Thanks. Harassment is any action order series of actions that are designed or whose effect is to adversely impact on someone else and create in this case a hostile or intimidating atmosphere.

It would be difficult to pursue the matter based on one sole post but if it is clear that the other posts are related to you then you could use these too. Civil proceedings only require you prove on the balance of probabilities rather than beyond reasonable doubt and so you would stand a better chance but it would still be challenging if it is not at all clear that the other posts relate to you.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
so if i go to court because of all of this, and i bring with me the posts written, is it as simple as "here this is what he said this is the effect its had on me" and thats it, or will i be questioned by someone? Will they try and prove what he has said to be true to get him off the hool?
Expert:  Joshua replied 5 years ago.
Not quite. You would need to complete an application form(s) as above and tell the court what your complaint is and what you are applying for. The court will then issue directions which means instructions on how they propose to hear the case and when evidence should be submitted by. You will then need to provide a statement of the case and attach the evidence you propose to use.

They will have a chance to defend the matter. you would need to be clear that the evidence does show on the balance of probability harassment as defined above to risk proceeding with such a case.