Case Laws related to Defamation in favour of Claimant.
TOLLEY Vs, J.S FRY & SONS LTD – (1931)
The defendants were owners of chocolate manufacturing company. They advertised their products with a caricature of the claimant, who was a prominent amateur golfer, showing him with the defendants’ chocolate in his pocket while playing golf. The advertisement compared the excellence of the chocolate to the excellence of the claimant’s drive. The claimant did not consent to or knew about the advertisement.
The claimant alleged that the advertisement suggested that he agreed to his portrait being used for commercial purposes and for financial gain. He further claimed that the use of his image made him look like someone who prostituted his reputation for advertising purposes and was thus unworthy of his status. At trial, several golfers gave evidence to the effect that if an amateur sold himself for advertisement, he no longer maintained his amateur status and might be asked to resign from his respective club. Furthermore, there was evidence that the possible adverse effects of the caricature on the claimant’s reputation were brought to the defendants’ attention. The trial judge found that the caricature could have a defamatory meaning. The jury then found in favor of the claimant.
The House of Lords held that in the circumstances of this case – as explained by the facts – the caricature was capable of constituting defamation. In other words, the publication could have the meaning alleged by the claimant. The Lords also ordered a new trial limited to the assessment of damages.
NEWSTEAD V LANDON EXPRESS NEWSPAPER LTD, (1939)
A newspaper published a defamatory article about Harold Newstead. However, another person with this name brought an action in libel. He claimed that the article had been misunderstood as leading to him.
The defendant newspaper recognised that they published the article. Also, they denied that they had the intention of being defamatory of him. Consequently, the claimant argued that the newspaper was under a duty. The duty was to give a clear and complete description of the correct person. Moreover, the claimant argued that the defendants were in breach of the duty.
The issue in Newstead v London Express Newspaper, was if the reasonable persons would have understood the words complained of to refer to the plaintiff.
The Court of Appeal stated that in accordance with the current law on libel, liability for libel does not depend on the intention of the defamer; but on the fact of the defamation. Accordingly, a reasonable man, in this case a newspaper publisher, must be aware of the possibility of individuals with the same name and must assume that the words published will be read by a reasonable man with reasonable care.
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