UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCES OF THE THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF BEING DEFAMED
Public policy mandates that certain communications, although defamatory, cannot serve as the basis for the imposition of liability in a defamation action, and communications falling within this category are deemed privileged, either absolutely or qualifiedly.
Understanding ABSOLUTE PRIVILEGE
Communications afforded an absolute privilege are perhaps more appropriately thought of as cloaked with an immunity, rather than a privilege, against the imposition of liability in a defamation action. This immunity, which protects communications irrespective of the communicant’s motives, has been stringently applied. In general, its protective shield has been granted only to those individuals participating in a public function, such as:
- judicial proceedings;
- legislative proceedings; or
- executive proceedings.
The absolute protection afforded such individuals is designed to ensure that their own personal interests – especially fear of a civil action, whether successful or otherwise – do not have an adverse impact upon the discharge of their public function.
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