The Florida Bar

Libel and Slander

December 12, 2022

Elements of Defamation

Defamatory statements fall into two categories: libel when it’s written, and slander when it’s spoken. Regardless of which form it takes, in order to be successful in a defamation lawsuit a person must usually show that:

  • A person made a statement.
  • The statement was published.
  • The statement caused injury.
  • The statement was false, and 
  • The statement didn’t fall into a privileged category.

Defenses to Defamation

  • Consent is an absolute defense. If the plaintiff consented to the publication of defamatory information about them, the consent is a complete defense.
  • Truth is a defense.
  • Privilege can be absolute or conditional. Absolute privilege means that the nature of the statement or the intent of the person making the statement doesn’t matter, the privilege always applies. Conditional privilege depends on the circumstance in which the statement was made.

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or substitute for the advice of a lawyer.