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Malicious falsehood

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Malicious falsehood

Malicious falsehood or injurious falsehood is a tort.[1] It is a lie that was uttered with malice, that is, the utterer knew it was false or would cause damage or harm.

Malicious falsehood is a false statement made maliciously that causes damage to the claimant. Malicious in this case means the defendant either knew the statement was not true or did not take proper care to check. It is often covered under laws regarding defamation.

England and Wales

Proof of special damage

Section 3(1) of the Defamation Act 1952 reads:

In an action for slander of title, slander of goods or other malicious falsehood, it shall not be necessary to allege or prove special damage-
(a) 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
(b) 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.[2]

This implements a recommendation of the Porter Committee[3]

For the purposes of section 3 of the Defamation Act 1952, the publication of words (including pictures, visual images, gestures and other methods of signifying meaning) in the course of a performance of a play is, subject to section 7 of the Theatres Act 1968, treated as publication in permanent form.[4]


See section 4A(b) of the Limitation Act 1980.

Northern Ireland

See section 3 of the Defamation Act (Northern Ireland) 1955.

See also


  1. ^ Clerk and Lindsell on Torts. Sixteenth Edition. Sweet & Maxwell. 1989. Paragraph 20-01 at page 1069.
  2. ^ Copy of section 3 of the Defamation Act 1952 from
  3. ^ Report of the Committee on the Law of Defamation. Cmd 7536. HMSO. 1948. Paragraphs 50 to 54.
  4. ^ The Theatres Act 1968, section 4
  • Malicious Falsehoods

Further reading

  • Ajinimoto Sweeteners Europe SAS v Asda Stores Ltd [2009 EWHC 1717 (QB), a UK decision relating to malicious falsehood

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