Defamation Act, 2009

JurisdictionIreland
CitationIR No. 31/2009


Number 31 of 2009


DEFAMATION ACT 2009

REVISED

Updated to 31 December 2020


This Revised Act is an administrative consolidation of the Defamation Act 2009. It is prepared by the Law Reform Commission in accordance with its function under the Law Reform Commission Act 1975 (3/1975) to keep the law under review and to undertake revision and consolidation of statute law.

All Acts up to and including the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act 2020 (32/2020), enacted 28 December 2020, and all statutory instruments up to and including the Medicinal Products (Control of Wholesale Distribution) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (S.I. No. 1 of 2021), made 4 January 2021, were considered in the preparation of this Revised Act.

Disclaimer: While every care has been taken in the preparation of this Revised Act, the Law Reform Commission can assume no responsibility for and give no guarantees, undertakings or warranties concerning the accuracy, completeness or up to date nature of the information provided and does not accept any liability whatsoever arising from any errors or omissions. Please notify any errors, omissions and comments by email to

revisedacts@lawreform.ie.


Number 31 of 2009


DEFAMATION ACT 2009

REVISED

Updated to 31 December 2020


Introduction

This Revised Act presents the text of the Act as it has been amended since enactment, and preserves the format in which it was passed.

Related legislation

This Act is not collectively cited with any other Act.

Annotations

This Revised Act is annotated and includes textual and non-textual amendments, statutory instruments made pursuant to the Act and previous affecting provisions.

An explanation of how to read annotations is available at

www.lawreform.ie/annotations.

Material not updated in this revision

Where other legislation is amended by this Act, those amendments may have been superseded by other amendments in other legislation, or the amended legislation may have been repealed or revoked. This information is not represented in this revision but will be reflected in a revision of the amended legislation if one is available.

Where legislation or a fragment of legislation is referred to in annotations, changes to this legislation or fragment may not be reflected in this revision but will be reflected in a revision of the legislation referred to if one is available.

A list of legislative changes to any Act, and to statutory instruments from 1972, may be found linked from the page of the Act or statutory instrument at

www.irishstatutebook.ie.

Acts which affect or previously affected this revision

Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2020 (23/2020)

Blasphemy (Abolition of Offences and Related Matters) Act 2019 (43/2019)

Parole Act 2019 (28/2019)

Protected Disclosures Act 2014 (14/2014)

Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act 2013 (33/2013)

All Acts up to and including Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act 2020 (32/2020), enacted 28 December 2020, were considered in the preparation of this revision.

Statutory instruments which affect or previously affected this revision

Defamation Act 2009 (Press Council) Order 2010 (S.I. No. 163 of 2010)

Defamation Act 2009 (Commencement) Order 2009 (S.I. No. 517 of 2009)

All statutory instruments up to and including Medicinal Products (Control of Wholesale Distribution) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (S.I. No. 1 of 2021), made 1 January 2021, were considered in the preparation of this revision.


Number 31 of 2009


DEFAMATION ACT 2009

REVISED

Updated to 31 December 2020



Acts Referred to

Civil Liability Act 1961

1961, No. 41

Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004

2004, No. 31

Commissions of Investigation Act 2004

2004, No. 23

Committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Compellability, Privileges and Immunities of Witnesses) Act 1997

1997, No. 17

Committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Privilege and Procedure) Act 1976

1976, No. 10

Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act 1961

1961, No. 39

Courts Act 1991

1991, No. 20

Courts of Justice Act 1924

1924, No. 10

Defamation Act 1961

1961, No. 40

European Communities Act 1972

1972, No. 27

Irish Takeover Panel Act 1997

1997, No. 5

Statute of Limitations 1957

1957, No. 6

Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts 1921 to 2004


Number 31 of 2009


DEFAMATION ACT 2009

REVISED

Updated to 31 December 2020


AN ACT TO REVISE IN PART THE LAW OF DEFAMATION; TO REPEAL THE DEFAMATION ACT 1961; AND TO PROVIDE FOR MATTERS CONNECTED THEREWITH.

[23 rd July, 2009]

BE IT ENACTED BY THE OIREACHTAS AS FOLLOWS:

PART 1

Preliminary and General

1.

Short title and commencement.

1.— (1) This Act may be cited as the Defamation Act 2009.

(2) This Act shall come into operation on such day or days as the Minister may appoint, by order or orders, either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision, and different days may be so appointed for different purposes and different provisions.

Annotations

Editorial Notes:

E1

Power pursuant to subs. (2) exercised (1.01.2010) by Defamation Act 2009 (Commencement) Order 2009 (S.I. No. 517 of 2009).

2. The 1st day of January 2010 is appointed as the day on which the Defamation Act 2009 (No. 31 of 2009) comes into operation.

2.

Definitions.

2.— In this Act—

“ Act of 1957” means the Statute of Limitations 1957;

“ Act of 1961” means the Defamation Act 1961;

“ cause of action” means a cause of action for defamation;

“ correction order” has the meaning assigned to it by section 30 ;

“ declaratory order” has the meaning assigned to it by section 28 ;

“ defamation” shall be construed in accordance with section 6 (2) ;

“ defamation action” means—

( a) an action for damages for defamation, or

( b) an application for a declaratory order,

whether or not a claim for other relief under this Act is made;

“ defamatory statement” means a statement that tends to injure a person’s reputation in the eyes of reasonable members of society, and “defamatory” shall be construed accordingly;

“ defence of absolute privilege” has the meaning assigned to it by section 17 ;

“ defence of qualified privilege” has the meaning assigned to it by section 18 ;

“ defence of truth” has the meaning assigned to it by section 16 ;

“ electronic communication” includes a communication of information in the form of data, text, images or sound (or any combination of these) by means of guided or unguided electromagnetic energy, or both;

“ Minister” means the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform;

“ periodical” means any newspaper, magazine, journal or other publication that is printed, published or issued, or that circulates, in the State at regular or substantially regular intervals and includes any version thereof published on the internet or by other electronic means;

“ plaintiff” includes a defendant counterclaiming in respect of a statement that is alleged to be defamatory;

“ Press Council” has the meaning assigned to it by section 44 ;

“ Press Ombudsman” has the meaning assigned to it by paragraph 8 of Schedule 2 ;

“ qualified offer” has the meaning assigned to it by section 22 ;

“ special damages” has the meaning assigned to it by section 31 (7) ;

“ statement” includes—

( a) a statement made orally or in writing,

( b) visual images, sounds, gestures and any other method of signifying meaning,

( c) a statement—

(i) broadcast on the radio or television, or

(ii) published on the internet, and

( d) an electronic communication;

“ summary relief” means, in relation to a defamation action—

( a) a correction order, or

( b) an order prohibiting further publication of the statement to which the action relates.

3.

Saver.

3.— (1) A provision of this Act shall not affect causes of action accruing before its commencement.

(2) This Act shall not affect the operation of the general law in relation to defamation except to the extent that it provides otherwise (either expressly or by necessary implication).

4.

Repeal.

4.— The Act of 1961 is repealed.

5.

Review of operation of Act.

5.— (1) The Minister shall, not later than 5 years after the passing of this Act, commence a review of its operation.

(2) A review under subsection (1) shall be completed not later than one year after its commencement.

PART 2

Defamation

6.

Defamation.

6.— (1) The tort of libel and the tort of slander—

( a) shall cease to be so described, and

( b) shall, instead, be collectively described, and are referred to in this Act, as the “ tort of defamation ”.

(2) The tort of defamation consists of the publication, by any means, of a defamatory statement concerning a person to one or more than one person (other than the first-mentioned person), and “ defamation ” shall be construed accordingly.

(3) A defamatory statement concerns a person if it could reasonably be understood as referring to him or her.

(4) There shall be no publication for the purposes of the tort of defamation if the defamatory statement concerned is published to the person to whom it relates and to a person other than the person to whom it relates in circumstances where—

( a) it was not intended that the statement would be published to the second-mentioned person, and

( b) it was not reasonably foreseeable that publication of the statement to the first-mentioned person would result in its being published to the second-mentioned person.

(5) The tort of defamation is actionable without proof...

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