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Injurious Falsehood

Friday, 5 October 2012

Injurious falsehood is also known as malicious falsehood which aptly describes what this area of law attempts to redress. An injurious falsehood is a false statement that causes intentional damage to a person's commercial or economic interests.

Injurious falsehood shares similarities with defamation but represents a different form of action to defamation. In certain circumstances claimants may find that both legal routes are open to them so it helps to understand how they differ and what the practical implications are from the perspective of both parties.


Injurious falsehood requires that certain criteria be met for a cause of action to exist. The Claimant must show:

  • The statements made by the defendant were false
  • The statements were published maliciously
  • The publication of the statements caused financial loss or is likely to cause financial loss

In respect of the final point, it is not necessary to prove financial loss when the action is founded on s3(1) Defamation Act 1952 and relates to slander of title, slander of goods or other malicious falsehood:

  • If the words upon which the action is founded are calculated to cause pecuniary damage to the plaintiff and are published in writing or other permanent form; or
  • If the said words are calculated to cause pecuniary damage to the plaintiff in respect of any office, profession, calling, trade or business held or carried on by him at the time of the publication.

Injurious Falsehood v Defamation

As noted above, injurious falsehood differs from defamation, a point which becomes more evident in the detail of the requirements. Taking the requirements in turn; firstly both actions require that the statements made are false. In claims for injurious falsehood this must be proved by the claimant but in defamation claims it is presumed unless the defendant can prove otherwise.

Injurious falsehood also specifically considers motivation; intention is at the core of the cause of action and the claimant must be able to prove that the defendant meant to cause harm. However, it does not require the statements to be defamatory. Defamation on the other hand provides a remedy for parties that suffer harm to their reputation due to another person's statement, whatever the intention of the person making.

Finally, a claimant must show financial loss to claim injurious falsehood. An action in defamation does not require proof of financial loss; damage to reputation is enough.

If you have any questions about how injurious falsehood might affect you or your business Rollingsons has experienced lawyers who can assist you. For more information please contact us on 0207 611 4848.