A Nosy Insight Into The Tort of Defamation


word ‘tort’ means wrong. Any unjustifiable interference and encroachment with
the right of another person may be a tort. The purpose of the law of tort
however, is to prevent, prohibits and dismember a person from doing wrong to
another person, and in events where a wrong has already been done, to afford
the injured party, right of action for compensation and other remedies.
            It can hence, be derived that the
main remedies available to a person in the law of tort are:
Award of damages,
that is monetary compensation
Injunction and /or
Any other remedy
such as an order to abate a missance, or for specific restitution of a chattee
of which the plaintiff has be dispossessed and so forth.

is “The publication of a statement which tends to lower a person in the
estimation of right thinking members of society or which tends to make them
shun or avoid that person (sir percs- H. WINFIELD). It therefore boils down to false
or wrong information that damages the reputation of the person and lowers him
in the estimation of right thinking person generally.
            A person can be said to commit the
tort of defamation when he publishes to a third party, discrediting information
about another person and causes him to be shunned by reasonable members of the
            The purpose of the law of defamation
is to vindicate, compensate and protect the good name of a person where there have
been damages and therefore, protect and compensate any loss of reputation the
person may have on his person, offices trade, cabin or profession.
            However, it must be noted that where a person has no good reputation in respect
to what is being said, then, the law has nothing to protect for him. A person
cannot recover damages for loss of reputation he does not have. Thus, it is not
every statement that causes damage to a person that gives rise to liability in
defamation. For example, if a person has been convicted for stealing or
perjury, it will not be a defamation to call that person a thief or a liar
            There are the (2) types of
defamation: Libel and Slander,
            A libel is a defamatory statement
made in a visible or permanent form, such as written or printed statement, for
instance, in books, newspapers, notes, circular, letter, radio, television, broadcast,
and any recorded audio visual material and so forth. The distinguishing,
feature of the tort of libel is that it is permanents, as the statements remain
in a permanent form. However, these statements can be withdrawn, expunged or
destroyed by the defendant or at the order of court.
            Slander is a statement made in a
transitory form and not permanent. It is usually by words, speech and sometimes
gestures which may or may not be combined with speech, hence they are not in a
permanent form.
            The tort of defamation given the
mode and nature of actions and happenings in the nation today, and the
increasing political awareness, and the Nigerian desire for the freedom of the
press, and the inevitability of the growing desire for the practicality of
fundamental human right, there is no limit to which the tort of defamation can
be ignored. 
Contributed by Justice .O. Nwaneri

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