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Tread at your own peril, Part II

Tread at your own peril, Part II

It may be a minefield out there for investigative journalists, but for all reporters there are plenty of potential pitfalls. Lara Haidar of The Rights Lawyers explains to Communicate magazine the balance between freedom of speech and the law in the UAE. Part II.

September 29, 2009 9:13 by



The defense

When a claim of defamation comes up, most people focus on whether what has been said, published or broadcast is defamatory, but there is a far easier place to start. The most important question is whether or not the person making the statement is free to have made the statement, as defamation laws differ from country to country.

Wherever the location, though, most defamation laws set out at least three main types of defense:

1. That what was said was true. If the statements are true, no matter what the statements were, there is no case of defamation;

2. That one is expressing an opinion. In other words, if one is expressing an opinion for example about a film or a restaurant then one may be protected by the defense of “fair comment;”

3. That the statement is privileged (i.e. not public). But this really relates to statements between clients and certain professionals (e.g. doctors and lawyers) and certain categories of individuals (and the main one here is one’s husband or wife). As soon as the communication is made to any non-privileged party, the privilege is broken.



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