Defense – A Qualified Privilege

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A QUALIFIED PRIVILEGE

There are certain qualified privileges that can shield a person from liability for defamation, even if the publisher communicates something that is not true about another. Society at large wants to encourages people to speak freely and openly in certain instances without fear of civil liability for defamation. These include statements made to police or other investigative bodies and statements made in court. That said, as the name implies, qualified privileges are not absolute. In order to maintain protection for a qualified privilege, the statement at issue must be:

(1) Made in good faith; and (2) on a subject matter in which the person making it has an interest, or in reference to which he/she has a duty, (3) made to a person or persons having a corresponding interest or duty, even though it contains matter which, without this privilege, would be slanderous; (4) made without malice.

These are not either/or, meaning, all four of the above elements have to be satisfied for the the privilege to maintain. To be clear, absent the above, no privilege will exist and the communicator of the statement can be held liable civilly for slander or libel. You should speak to an attorney to get an up-to-date description of the law and to know how it applies to the facts in your case.

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