Thursday, 22nd February 2018
LEGAL Article

This Month's Magazine
Defamation of Character

Defamation of Character

The meaning of defamation in Spain is defined as “a communication made to one or more persons with the intention to cause malicious damage to another.

An accusation, be it true or false, determined or undetermined about another person or company which could or does have a direct effect on that personÂ’s honour, dignity or reputation.

The fact that the injurious statement has been made is the proof in this action, it is not necessary to prove whether it is true or not. The fundamental difference between the term “defamation of character” and “libel” is represented by the method used to convey the defamatory information.

Defamation damage is of ephemeral nature when (the communication of it is not of a lasting form), this could be a verbal comment, a sound made, an insinuating gesture or gestures and other such expressions. On the other hand libel is of a more permanent nature such as a letter, a film, a CD, a publication, Internet and other similar methods of a more durable exposure. Both give right to legal action in respect of injury received.

Causing injury is legally considered by the Spanish State as a criminal offense, a crime (delito) against the honour and the good reputation of an individual or a legal person (company). “The action or expression by one person that harms the dignity of another, undermining his reputation or attempting to diminish his existing esteem by others” as defined within Article 208 of the Spanish Penal Code (Codigo penal de España).


Injury can be physical and as it can me moral. It is a crime of assault a person physically just as it is a crime to assault a person with words that are spoken, written or insinuated. Injury of course becomes more serious when statements are made which are actually untrue or just even uncertain thus adding confusion and doubt to what the truth is, in other words made with the intention to damage someoneÂ’s honour and reputation. It is worth noting that the penal authorities give the word honour a much wider and deeper meaning than the grammatical definition of the word. If you consider honour as the moral quality that defines the highest fulfilment of duties, this cannot be jeopardised by others. Only his/her own conduct itself can dishonour a human being, therefore the reputation and virtues of a person has the right to be defended.

The majority of authors adopt the defence of showing that the “animus iniurandi” (intention to cause damage) is absent when a statement is made with “animus jocandi, narrarsdi, defendedni, etc.” (amusingly, informatively, defensively, etc). Of course it is up to the tribunals to decide when certain expressions are injurious or not.

Falsely accusing a person of a crime (delito) has a distinct definition and it is named “calumnia”, the main difference being that the perpetrator actually does place a formal denuncia against the injured party. This is defined as a private crime meaning that the injured party needs to place a “querella” (an official criminal report at the police station) in order to demand compensation.

Defamation of character in Spain is a criminall offence!

Please note that this information is of an informative nature in general terms. It is advised that you always consult a competent lawyer.

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