Defamation is one of the most underestimated offenses in Kenya. In fact, many people commit this offense and get away with it because those affected do not know the grounds on which to bring them to book. Here is a look at what defamation is and how to make a claim.
What is Defamation?
Defamation is when one says or writes false statements about an individual which causes harm to his or her reputation.
According to common law, for an act to constitute defamation, it must be false and must be a statement made by someone apart from the one who was defamed. Defamation can be classified as spoken defamation, also called slander, and defamation in form of words or images also called libel.
Article 33 of the Kenyan Constitution states that every Kenyan has the freedom of expression. In article 33 (3), every person should respect the reputation and rights of others.
Filing For Defamation
The first step in claiming defamation is to prove that the defendant made a false claim or assertion. You should also prove that the information that caused the defamation is damaging. You should also note that if the defendant can show that the statements made were opinions or that the statement was what any reasonable person would have made, then any case against them may be dismissed.
You will be required to inform the defendant that you are filing a case against them. Both parties will be required to attend a court hearing. The court will state the reason for the case and the petitioner(s) and defendant(s) in the case.
After the hearing, both parties will exchange all information regarding the case. This is to ensure that no new information is introduced in the course of the case. New information that was not introduced at the deposition stage is usually disregarded.
After the deposition, the court requires that the parties try to settle the matter outside court before going to trial. If it is difficult to reach a settlement, the case will go to trial.
During the trial, both parties will present their case. The court will review the arguments and evidence of both sides and make a ruling. If you win the defamation case, the court will award you compensation by determining how much damage the defendant’s statements have brought.
Legal source: Defamation and punishments are clearly defined in chapter Chapter 18 of The Penal Code.