20+ Differences Between Libel And Slander

The offenses of libel and slander quantify the meaning of defamation, i.e., communicating false statements about certain entities that subsequently cause damage to their reputation that may be reverted if compensated in monetary terms.

However, both terms, although often used synonymously, differ greatly when discussing the meaning of such acts in the field of law.

The difference is often even between legal scholars, who have learned to interpret the offenses in two different legal languages.

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The Key Differences Between Libel and Slander

Libel:

  1. Libel is considered to be both a civil wrong as well as a criminal offense.
  2. Libel refers to the idea of publishing false statements in tangible forms.
  3. Libel is also sub-classified as seditious libel.

Slander:

  1. Slander is considered to be only a civil wrong unless otherwise specified by certain states in the United States of America.
  2. Slander refers to the idea of communicating false statements in intangible forms, i.e., by way of words and gestures.
  3. Slander does not have any further sub-divisions to it as an offense.

Comparison Between Libel And Slander

ParametersLibelSlander

Type of Offense
The offense of libel is considered a civil wrong as well as a criminal offense in the United States of America. The offense of libel is also subdivided into ‘seditious libel,’ which holds the element of a criminal offense.
The offense of slander is only considered to be a civil wrong in most American states. However, about twenty-three states and two union territories have also classified slander as a criminal offense.

Technique

The offense of libel refers to communicating a statement that is false in nature and has the possibility of causing harm to the reputation of an entity in print media.

The offense of slander refers to communicating a statement that is false in nature and has the possibility of causing harm to an entity’s reputation through spoken words or gestures.

Form

An individual commits the offense of libel when such a statement is published in tangible forms, such as in print media or by way of pictures.

An individual commits the offense of slander when such a statement is published in intangible forms, such as by way of spoken words or gestures.

Punishment

An individual being tried for committing the offense of libel will likely be charged in a civil case and have to provide monetary compensation to the affected party. Additionally, on account of seditious libel, an individual is required to pay compensation of $10,000 to the affected party and serve a term of twenty years.

An individual who is being tried for committing the offense of slander will likely be charged in a civil case and will be required to provide monetary compensation to the affected party. i.e., the plaintiff, which the honorable court of law will decide on a case-to-case basis.

Limitation Period

The limitation period for filing a case of libel against the offender is six years. Affected parties who fail to take action before the given term are not eligible to seek a remedy from the court of law.

The limitation period for filing a case of slander against the offender is two years. Affected parties who fail to take action before the given term are not eligible to seek a remedy from the court of law.

Proof of Damage

The offense of libel is considered to be ‘actionable per se.’ This means that the plaintiff can sue the offender in a court of law even without showing proof of damage caused by such a false publication.

The offense of slander can only be brought before the court by the affected party when they are able to prove in the court of law that such a false statement has caused damage to the reputation of the individual.

Intention

Legal scholars have interpreted the offense of libel in such a manner that the publication of such false statements is considered to be deliberate, the statement being a written statement that could have been edited or softened.

Legal scholars have interpreted the offense of slander in such a manner that the communication of false statements could not have been done with deliberate intention since foul statements can be spoken by any human being in the heat of the moment or under provocation.

The Distinctive Characteristics Of Libel And Slander

What Exactly Is Libel?

The offense of libel refers to the act of communicating a statement that is false and possibly causes harm to the reputation of an entity in print media, i.e., in a tangible form, which would accordingly affect the factors mentioned above in a heated fashion, causing distress and damage to the affected party.

When such statements are tangible, it essentially means that such information can be seen and touched with our sensory features. Some examples of these statements may be in the form of newspapers, blogs, articles, caricatures, comics, etc.

What Exactly Is Slander?

The offense of slander refers to the act of communicating a statement that is false and possibly causes harm to an entity’s reputation by way of spoken words or gestures that may affect the factors mentioned above in a heated fashion, causing distress and damage to the affected party.

The offense of slander is said to have been committed in intangible forms. This means that such statements cannot be revisited unless recorded and put up on media, in which case, it would amount to libel.


The Major Differences Between Libel And Slander

Technique

  • Libel: The offense of libel refers to the act of communicating a statement that is false and defamatory in nature and has the possibility of causing harm to the reputation of an entity in print media, i.e., in a tangible form, which would accordingly affect the above-mentioned factors in a heated fashion, causing distress and damage to the affected party.
  • Slander: The offense of slander refers to the act of communicating a statement that is false and defamatory in nature and has the possibility of causing harm to an entity’s image and reputation by way of spoken words or gestures that may affect the above-mentioned factors in a heated fashion, causing distress and damage to the affected party.

Form

  • Libel: An individual is said to have committed the offense of libel when such a statement is published in a tangible form, such as by way of print media or pictures, i.e., comics, caricatures, etc.

    When such statements are tangible, it essentially means that such statements can be seen and touched with our sensory features.
  • Slander: An individual is said to have committed the offense of slander when such a statement is published in an intangible form, such as by way of spoken words or gestures.

    When such statements are intangible, it essentially means that such statements cannot be revisited unless recorded and put up on media, in which case, it would amount to libel.

Type of Offense

  • Libel: The offense of libel is considered both a civil wrong and a criminal offense in American Law. It is also imperative to note that the offense of libel has also been sub-divided into ‘seditious libel,’ which holds the element of a criminal offense.

    An individual is guilty of seditious libel when they publish false statements about public officials.
  • Slander: The offense of slander is only considered a civil wrong in most American states, rather than the offense of libel, which is both a civil and a criminal offense.

    However, about twenty-three states and two union territories have also classified slander as a criminal offense that is looked down upon in certain states of the United States of America.

Punishment

  • Libel: An individual tried for libel will likely be charged in a civil case and have to provide monetary compensation to the affected party. Additionally, on account of seditious libel, an individual is to pay compensation of $10,000 aside from having to serve twenty years in prison if proven guilty.
  • Slander: An individual who is tried for the offense of slander in a court of law is likely to be charged in a civil case and will be compelled by the law to provide monetary compensation, which is specified on a case-to-case basis by the court of law in accordance with the amount of damage faced by the affected party. i.e., the plaintiff.

Limitation Period

  • Libel: The limitation period for filing a case of libel against the offender is six years. Affected parties who fail to take action before the given term are not eligible to seek a remedy from the court of law.
  • Slander: The limitation period for filing a case of slander against the offender is two years. Affected parties who fail to take action before the given term are not eligible to seek a remedy from the court of law.

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When can I bring a claim? – Libel vs. Slander

Libel:

  1. On account of the offense of libel, the affected party is required to bring a claim in the court of law within a period of 6 years, beyond which the court will not be able to provide any kind of assistance to the affected party.
  2. On account of the offense of libel, the affected party does not have to provide proof of damage by the publication of such a statement in front of a court of law. This is because the offense of libel is actionable per se.

Slander:

  1. On account of the offense of slander, the affected party is required to bring a claim in the court of law within a period of 2 years, beyond which the court will not be able to provide any kind of assistance to the affected party.
  2. On account of the offense of slander, the affected party is required to provide proof of damage to one’s reputation through the communication of a false statement in front of a court of law.
  3. If the plaintiff, i.e., the affected party, fails to provide proof of the damage in front of the court of law, their suit will not be maintainable.

Proof Of Damage

  • Libel: The offense of libel is considered to be ‘actionable per se.’ This means that the plaintiff can sue the offender in a court of law even without showing actual proof of damage caused by such a false publication.
  • Slander: The offense of slander can only be brought before the court by the affected party when they can prove that such a false statement has caused damage to the reputation of the individual.

Intention

  • Libel: The offense of libel has been interpreted by legal scholars fluent in the language of the law to mean that the publication of a libelous statement can only be interpreted to hold the offender having the intention of performing the act of publishing such false statements in print media.

    This is because if the statement was written, it could have been edited or softened in its tone.
  • Slander: The offense of slander has been interpreted by legal scholars in such a manner that the communication of false statements could not have been done with deliberate intention since statements that are of a foul nature can be made by any prudent human being in the heat of the moment or when under the effect of provocation.

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The Element of Intention – Libel vs. Slander

Libel:

  1. The element of intention is present in the case of an offense of libel.
  2. If the libelous statement was written and subsequently published, it could have been edited or softened in its tone to avoid ruining the subject’s reputation.

Slander:

  1. The element of intention is dormant in the case of an offense of slander.
  2. Statements that are of a foul nature can be made by any prudent human being in the heat of the moment or when under the effect of provocation.

(FAQs) Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is the key difference between the offenses of libel and slander?

The key difference between the offenses of libel and slander lies in their technique and form.

While the offense of libel refers to the publication of false statements in a tangible form, such as in print media or in pictures, the offense of slander, on the other hand, refers to the communication of false statements in an intangible form, i.e., by way of spoken words and gestures.

Q2. Why is slander said to be unintentional in nature?

The offense of slander has been interpreted by legal scholars in such a manner that the communication of false statements could not have been done with deliberate intention since statements that are of a foul nature can be made by any prudent human being in the heat of the moment or when under the effect of provocation.

Q3. When is a plaintiff not required to prove the damage caused to them through the publication of a false statement?

Because of the offense of libel, the affected party, i.e., the plaintiff, is not mandatorily required to provide proof of damage by publishing such a statement in front of a court of law.

This is because the offense of libel is actionable per se. However, if providing proof of damage caused would make the party’s case stronger, they have the power to do so.


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