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What is the difference legally between libel and slander?

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prospero eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Both are forms of defamation. Generally, libel is written defamation, whereas slander is oral defamation.

Defamation is defined as the act of making an untrue statement (or statements) about another which damages his/her reputation. If the defamatory statement is printed or broadcast over the media it is libel, and if only oral, it is slander. In a practical sense, the difference in libel and slander is often simply whether there is some recorded version of the defamatory statement. If so, it could be construed as libel, even though it may be, for instance, a tape (or digital) recording of oral defamation. While a slander case might require witnesses to testify to the statement, a libel case typically only requires the recorded version of the statement itself.

Public figures, including officeholders and candidates, have to show that the defamation was made with malicious intent and was not just fair comment. Damages for slander may be limited to actual (special) damages unless there is malice. Some statements such as an accusation of having committed a crime, having a feared disease or being unable to perform one's occupation are called libel per se or slander per se and can more easily lead to large money awards in court and even punitive damage recovery by the person harmed.

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platty30 | Student

Just saw your question, so I decided to answer it....

Libel and slander both belong to the tortious mother called DEFAMATION, which simply mean lowering a person's reputation before right thinking members of the society... thus the following are requirements of defamation:

1. there must have been a specific word or publication;

2. the word or publication must have been communicated to at least a third party;

3. the word or publication must be false.