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The law of defamation in Ireland is governed by the Constitution, common law and the Defamation Act 2009. That Act repeals the Defamation Act 1961, which was in force until the first day of 2010. The Defamation Act 2009 now governs all claims of defamation arising since the commencement of the new legislation. 

Libel Workshop

After this law was enacted  all  The Irish Hospital Radio Network ran a number of training workshops for  presenters at each hospital station to ensure all presenter were up to date on the new law . Andrea Martin of Medialawyer.ie who had just published  a book on the subject  presented the workshop .  Andrea is an Irish qualified solicitor who has practiced exclusively in media law since 1998 and is recognised internationally for her expertise in the area. She advises a large number of the leading Irish independent production companies, writers, musicians, publishers and is the “go to” person on all their legal requirements. Considered by many as their “in-house” counsel, she provides them with practical, solutions-focused advice in the fast paced environment that is the media industry.


Defamation is one of the most serious dangers facing journalists and publishers today. Eighty per cent of all defamation actions are brought against the media – and a libel action can bankrupt a small newspaper or radio station. The traditional definition of defamation was publication of a false statement which subjected a person to hatred, ridicule or contempt. That rather archaic definition has given way to a more modern one: according to the Defamation Act 2009, a defamatory statement is one which tends to injure a person’s reputation in the eyes of reasonable members of society. (That means that a person cannot sue for having his reputation lowered in the eyes of, for example, other members of his criminal gang!)

The 2009 act abolishes the separate torts of libel and slander and replaces them with the “tort of defamation”.
An actionable defamatory statement has three ingredients:
it must be published,
it must refer to the complainant and
it must be false.
A defamatory statement need not necessarily name anyone. It may suggest a person or persons by – for example – their profession, location or connections. A former garda commissioner was awarded £30,000 damages for the use of a graphic which featured his ears in a television programme on corruption! And a senior barrister settled a High Court action against Irish television for an undisclosed amount for using a graphic of her car in a story about drunk drivers.
If just one person gives credible evidence that he recognized the complainant by the description or image, that is enough to ground a defamation action.
Only a false statement is actionable. But defamation differs from other torts in that a statement will be presumed to be defamatory until proved otherwise. If a defendant wishes to plead justification as a defense, he has to prove the truth of the statement.
Quick Guide : Stay on the air and out of the dock.
  • Don't try to be clever. Shows like "Have I got News for you" are pre recorded giving lawyers and editors plenty of time to take out libelous comments .

  • Saying 'allegedly' after a libelous statement does not reduce the seriousness of the comment. In fact it may make it worse.Think 'If I was them, would I like that said about me'  That's usually a good guide to whether you can say it.

  • If you repeat  a libel. you've still published it . Just because a newspaper originally made the sensational comment,  you the presenter and the station  can still be sued for repeating it, and if the person affected wants proof of what you said is true , you won't have the evidence  to support what you said, the newspaper  will .

  • Don't make any comment on a court case or potential court case. If you are a presenter , don't talk about the story from the moment someone's arrested.

  • Cover yourself, Warn telephone callers what they can/can't say, Always take their name and number
  • At the very least , know enough to know when alarm bells should start ringing and ask for advice.  It really doesn't matter in the grand scale of things if a story doesn't make it to air

  • Remember everything you say on air is recorded and kept for at the very least 90 days and  will be given to our governing body the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland upon request.