A specific remedy exists in our law in the form of the actio injuriarum which provides a general remedy for wrongs to interests of personality.
In the action injuriarum ‘sentimental damages’ are awarded as a solatium to assuage the Plaintiff’s injured feelings of dignity and reputation.
The wrongful and intentional infringement of someone’s personality is known as injuria, which manifests itself in many forms, the best known of which is undoubtedly defamation. Defamation can be distinguished from other forms of injuria by the aspect of a person’s personality which is infringed when defamation occurs, i.e. the subjective right to the good name or the good reputation which the person enjoys in the community.
This applies not only to individuals. It has been well established that a corporation can sue for defamation and it is now clear that a non-trading corporation or universitas can do so if the defamatory statement causes it financial prejudice. The remedy for defamation is a monetary award in favour of the person defamed against the person responsible for the defamation.
Several requirements must be satisfied before an action for defamation can succeed. There must be:
- an act by the Defendant
- which causes or tends to cause
- harm to the Plaintiff’s good name or reputation
- the act must be wrongful, that is, there must be an infringement of the Plaintiff’s right to his good name or reputation in society (where a ground of justification is proved, there is, of course, no such infringement in that the act will not be wrongful)
- there must be animus injuriandi
Defamation may be defined as the publication in any form regarding another person (including a juristic person) of anything, which reduces or tends to reduce the person’s good name or reputation in society or causes financial prejudice to him or it, without adequate justification and with the intention to injure such person in this manner. It is essential that the defamatory statement or behaviour be “published” i.e. brought to the “apprehension” of someone other than the person defamed.
The onus of proving publication rests upon the plaintiff, although, in certain circumstances, publication is rebuttably presumed. Whether the publication is by means of spoken word or written word is immaterial. The words or behaviour in question should tend to harm the aggrieved party’s good name, to disparage him, to lower or derogate from his esteem in society without justification or to cause financial prejudice. This means that the defendant’s act must be wrongful. It must be an invasion of the right which every person has, namely that his reputation should not be unlawfully attacked.
At MED Attorneys, we specialise in maximising compensation for defamatory comments and actions to which our clients have fallen victim.
Talk to an Injuria specialist advisor today