On making, reporting, and repeating defamatory statements

Author: Anton Fagan

ISSN: 1996-2177
Affiliations: WP Schreiner Professor of Law, University of Cape Town
Source: South African Law Journal, Volume 141 Issue 1, p. 1-14


This note starts by distinguishing the making from the reporting of a defamatory statement, and both of these from the repetition of one. Thereafter, having introduced the general rule that a defendant who made or reported a defamatory statement about a plaintiff to a third party cannot avoid liability on the ground that she was merely repeating a statement made by a fourth party, the note goes on to discuss certain already-existing exceptions, and possible exceptions, to this rule. Finally, the note looks at whether our law should acknowledge a further exception, namely where a defendant repeated a defamatory statement by reporting it, while knowing it to be false, but did so only in order to refute it.