CASE:  A young adult has said something ugly and defamatory

about a professional person in a public place. There are





Slander is actionable through the principles of tort law.


The principles of tort are as follows. (1) negligence (2) the fiction of

the “reasonable man” (3) damages.


The question is asked as follows: “What would a reasonable man

do under similar circumstances?”


If a reasonable man did the action to you (the relevant action – ie: said

that you called him ‘filthy beast’ when you did not, and he said it in public

in a professional (your profession) situation in front of witnesses,

would said reasonable man foresee that you would suffer damages?


If a reasonable man, as judged by the court, would forsee

that you would suffer damages if he spoke thus in public,

then the defendant would be

liable… he would be ordered to pay you damages in money,

to the extent that the damages are assessed by the court.


Now in this situation, in my opinion, a Court would rule

that a reasonable man would forsee that you would suffer

damages. So the question would be quantitative. How much

are the damages the plaintiff (you) suffered – how much are they



Pretty simple principle, but there are lots or areas

for argument.


Now the question of the young adult’s age comes in to it.

Generally speaking parents are liable for the damages

created by their child. But this will have to be

researched further.


Slander when it is defamation becomes a criminal

offence. Malicious slander is also criminal.

Civil suit will follow if the defendant is found guilty of

a criminal action. The burden of proof in a civil

action is – “on the balance of probabilities”.


In criminal law, the burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable

doubt,” which is a higher standard and more difficult to prove.

I’ve always liked tort law. You can be creative. One of the first

things you have to do in tort, is find out whether the parents

have enough cash to make the action worthwhile, or to find

out what insurance the parents have – then the insurance

company is added as a defendant.


TORT LAW can be fun and you can be creative in pursuing an action.

Of course, this brief talk reveals just the tip of the iceberg.





W.G. Milne


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