Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

South African Defamation Law

Eric Descheemaeker, University of Edinburgh School of Law, has published ‘A Man of Bad Character Has Not so Much to Lose’: Truth as a Defence in the South African Law of Defamation as University of Edinburgh School of Law Working Paper No. 2011/39. Here is the abstract.

This paper examines, from a historical and comparative perspective, the role of truth in the South African law of defamation. In order to understand to what extent the law of South Africa might represent a mixture of civilian and common-law thinking, it first sets out the viewpoint of, on the one hand, Roman and Roman-Dutch law and, on the other hand, English law. Against this background, the dominant position of South African law appears avowedly civilian, a stand explained by the fact that the South African law of defamation really is a law of verbal insults, as in Rome, rather than a law of injuries to deserved reputation, as in England. However, an interesting dissident strand in favour of the sufficiency of truth can be seen to exist in the background, which is explored. This dissenting strand is certainly English in substance, but this does not entail that it has English roots.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

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