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Vol 23 No 5 May/June 2018

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Law of Defamation in Commonwealth Africa

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ISBN13: 9781840140927
ISBN: 1840140925
Published: February 2000
Publisher: Routledge
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Hardback
Price: Out of print

The law of defamation is about words. In Africa the word retains much power, whether in the form of witchcraft, or divination, oral history, praise-singing or singing as a form of social control. Defamation is, therefore, an area of the law in which there is, in most Commonwealth African countries, quite vigorous activity.

This book deals mainly with the common law, that is the English system imported as part of the colonial baggage into most of these countries. However, the book presents no cases from Mozambique, which is a civil law country, few from South Africa, and only one from Cameroon. Nigeria is more prominently represented than other countries simply because of its size and the number of its reported cases.

This book is intended as an analysis of the law pertaining to defamation, but considering the nature of the law and how it is used in African countries, it could also be useful in the areas of sociology and politics.

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Other Jurisdictions , Africa
Part 1 Introduction: the essential nature of defamation law
who sues and why?
a social importance?
the African context
law in Africa
the media in Africa
governments and defamation
judicial attitudes to the press.
Part 2 Customary (and Islamic) law: introduction
the law
the status of customary law
Islamic law.
Part 3 The colonial systems: the "common law" - an introduction
the application of English law in Africa
Roman-Dutch law
French law in Africa.
Part 4 Form: introduction
libel or slander?
the consequences of distinction.
Part 5 Meaning: introduction
the judge without a jury
the audience
not admitting evidence
levels of meaning and innuendoes
aids to interpretation
abuse and mere rhetoric
identifying the plaintiff
reference to the plaintiff and inneuendoes
more than one potential plaintiff.
Part 6 Defamatory meaning: definitions
the society
"right thinking members of society generally"
the use of evidence.
Part 7 Examples of defamatory statements: criminal offences
activities against the state
private parts
imputations as to profession etc.
corruption and abuse of office
defaming politicians
"natural rulers"
disclaimer notices
financial credit.
Part 8 Publication: another person
proof of publication
who is liable?
multiple publications.
Part 9 Who can sue?: no vicarious defamation
defamation of the dead
the corporate plaintiff
other bodies
Roman-Dutch jurisdictions.
Part 10 The defendant's fault: the common law
other systems
insanity and inebriation.
Part 11 Truth and public belief: truth
what must be shown
public benefit
pleading and proof.
Part 12 Absolute privilege: statements in, or related to, judicial proceedings
quasi-judicial proceedings
legislative bodies
statements between officers of state
solicitor and client.
Part 13 Qualified privilege generally: introduction
the duty to communicate
an interest in communicating
response to attack
adjudicatory and arbitral bodies
village meetings and associations
excess of privilege
other systems
side-stepping the defence.
Part 14 Defences for the press 1 - statutes and privilege: Lord Campbell's Act
"unintentional defamation" under the modern legislation
the press and privilege
privilege of reports at common law
absolute privilege for reports of proceedings
statutory protection of reports of proceedings of legislatures
other reports privileged under statute
a new defence for the media?.
Part 15 Defences for the press 2 - fair comment: introduction
matters of public interest
comment not fact
the comment must be on facts
facts must be referred to or identified
pleading fair comment
a note on Mauritius.
Part 16 Malice: the meaning of malice
proof of malice
malice must be the motivating factor
malice where there are joint tortfeasors. (Part contents)