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Malicious falsehood is distinct from defamation because there is no need to show that the statement is likely to cause reputational damage.

For example, if someone makes a false statement that your brand name has ceased to trade and the business loses revenue. As a result, this could constitute malicious falsehood. This is despite the fact that the statement itself did not include any negative comments about the brand itself, for example by suggesting that products or services fell below the expected standards, which could have amounted to defamation if the loss was incurred as a result.

To pursue a claim for malicious falsehood, you must show that the statement was both false and was made maliciously, meaning that the other party either knew that it was untrue, or were reckless to the fact. Their liability may be mitigated considerably if they quickly publish a corrective statement acknowledging the falsehood because this will diminish the element of malice.

In most cases, you will also need to show that loss or damage has been suffered as a result.

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There are however exceptions to this rule, for example, if it can be shown that the statement was published in a permanent format and calculated to cause financial loss to the individual or to their company, business or intellectual property.

You must make your claim within one year of the malicious falsehood occurring. Whatever has happened, it is essential to seek the right level of legal advice before deciding on how to proceed.

At Ackroyd Legal, our dedicated solicitors will look at the facts and advise upon whether what has occurred amounts to defamation or malicious falsehood and guide the best way to proceed to reach the outcome that you deserve.

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