Trespass is an area of criminal law or tort law broadly divided into three groups: trespass to the person, trespass to chattels and trespass to land. Trespass to the person involved six separate trespasses: threats, battery, wounding and false imprisonment. Through the evolution of the common law in various jurisdictions, the codification of common law torts, most jurisdictions now broadly recognize three trespasses to the person: assault, "any act of such a nature as to excite an apprehension of battery". One can Retrieve wounded or expired game from neighboring properties and boundaries if the neighboring land owner does not give permission as long as there are no weapons in possession while retrieving game caus injury". Trespass to chattel does not require a showing of damages; the "intermeddling with or use of … the personal property" of another gives cause of action for trespass. Since CompuServe Inc. v. Cyber Promotions, Inc. various courts have applied the principles of trespass to chattel to resolve cases involving unsolicited bulk e-mail and unauthorized server usage.
Trespass to land is today the tort most associated with the term trespass. It is not necessary to prove harm to a possessor's protected interest. "t common law, every unauthorized entry upon the soil of another was a trespasser". Trespass has been treated as a common law offense in some countries. There are three types of trespass, the first of, trespass to the person. Whether intent is a necessary element of trespass to the person varies by jurisdiction. Under English decision, Letang v Cooper, intent is required to sustain a trespass to the person cause of action. In other jurisdictions, gross negligence is sufficient to sustain a trespass to the person, such as when a defendant negligently operates an automobile and strikes the plaintiff with great force. "Intent is to be presumed from the act itself." Trespass to the person consists of three torts: assault and false imprisonment. Under the statutes of various common law jurisdictions, assault is both a tort. A person commits criminal assault if he purposely, knowingly, or recklessly inflicts bodily injury upon another.
A person commits tortious assault when he engages in "any act of such a nature as to excite an apprehension of battery ". In some jurisdictions, there is no requirement that actual physical violence result—simply the "threat of unwanted touching of the victim" suffices to sustain an assault claim. In R v Constanza, the court found a stalker's threats could constitute assault. Silence, given certain conditions, may constitute an assault as well. However, in other jurisdictions, simple threats are insufficient. Incongruity of a defendant's language and action, or of a plaintiff's perception and reality may vitiate an assault claim. In Tuberville v Savage, the defendant reached for his sword and told the plaintiff that "f it were not assize-time, I would not take such language from you". In its American counterpart, Commonwealth v. Eyre, the defendant shouted "f it were not for your gray hairs, I would tear your heart out". In both cases, the courts held that despite a threatening gesture, the plaintiffs were not in immediate danger.
The actions must give the plaintiff a reasonable expectation that the defendant is going to use violence. Battery is "any intentional and unpermitted contact with the plaintiff's person or anything attached to it and identified with it"; the elements of battery common law varies by jurisdiction. In the United States, the American Law Institute's Restatement of Torts provides a general rule to determine liability for battery: An act which, directly or indirectly, is the legal cause of a harmful contact with another's person makes the actor liable to the other, if: the act is done with the intention of bringing about a harmful or offensive contact or an apprehension thereof to the other or a third person, contact is not consented to by the other or the other's consent thereto is procured by fraud or duress, the contact is not otherwise privileged. Battery torts under Commonwealth precedent are subjected to a four point test to determine liability: Directness. Is the sequence of events connecting initial conduct and the harmful contact an unbroken series?
Intentional Act. Was the harmful contact the conscious object of the defendant? Did the defendant intend to cause the resulting harm? Though the necessity of intent remains an integral part of Commonwealth battery, some Commonwealth jurisdictions have moved toward the American jurisprudence of "substantial certainty". If a reasonable person in the defendant's position would apprehend the s
Restraint of trade
Restraints of trade is a common law doctrine relating to the enforceability of contractual restrictions on freedom to conduct business. It is a precursor of modern competition law. In an old leading case of Mitchel v Reynolds Lord Smith LC said, it is the privilege of a trader in a free country, in all matters not contrary to law, to regulate his own mode of carrying it on according to his own discretion and choice. If the law has regulated or restrained his mode of doing this, the law must be obeyed, but no power short of the general law ought to restrain his free discretion. A contractual undertaking not to trade is void and unenforceable against the promisor as contrary to the public policy of promoting trade, unless the restraint of trade is reasonable to protect the interest of the purchaser of a business. Restraints of trade can appear in post-termination restrictive covenants in employment contracts. Restraint of trade in England and the UK was and is defined as a legal contract between a buyer and a seller of a business, or between an employer and employee, that prevents the seller or employee from engaging in a similar business within a specified geographical area and within a specified period.
It intends to protect trade secrets or proprietary information but is enforceable only if it is reasonable with reference to the party against whom it is made and if it is not contrary to public policy. The restraint of trade doctrine is based on the two concepts of prohibiting agreements that run counter to public policy, unless the reasonableness of an agreement could be shown. A restraint of trade is some kind of agreed provision, designed to restrain another's trade. For example, in Nordenfelt v Maxim, Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Co a Swedish arms inventor promised on sale of his business to an American gun maker that he "would not make guns or ammunition anywhere in the world, would not compete with Maxim in any way." To be a valid restraint of trade in the first place, both parties must have provided valuable consideration for their agreement to be enforceable. In Dyer's Case a dyer had given a bond not to exercise his trade in the same town as the plaintiff for six months but the plaintiff had promised nothing in return.
On hearing the plaintiff's attempt to enforce this restraint, Hull J exclaimed, "per Dieu, if the plaintiff were here, he should go to prison till he had paid a fine to the King." The common law evolved with changing business conditions. So in the early 17th century case of Rogers v Parry it was held that a promise by a joiner not to trade from his house for 21 years was enforceable against him since the time and place was certain, it was held that a man cannot bind himself to not use his trade generally. This was followed in Broad v Jolyffe and Mitchel v Reynolds where Lord Macclesfield asked, "What does it signify to a tradesman in London what another does in Newcastle?" In times of such slow communications and commerce around the country it seemed axiomatic that a general restraint served no legitimate purpose for one's business and ought to be void. But in 1880 in Roussillon v Roussillon Lord Justice Fry stated that a restraint unlimited in space need not be void, since the real question was whether it went further than necessary for the promisee's protection.
So in the Nordenfelt case Lord Macnaghten ruled that while one could validly promise to "not make guns or ammunition anywhere in the world" it was an unreasonable restraint to "not compete with Maxim in any way." This approach in England was confirmed by the House of Lords in Mason v The Provident Supply and Clothing Co. In the US, the first significant discussion occurred in the Sixth Circuit's opinion by Chief Judge William Howard Taft in United States v. Addyston Pipe & Steel Co. Judge Taft explained the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 as a statutory codification of the English common-law doctrine of restraint of trade, as explicated in such cases as Mitchel v Reynolds; the court distinguished between naked restraints of trade and those ancillary to the legitimate main purpose of a lawful contract and reasonably necessary to effectuation of that purpose. An example of the latter would be a non-competition clause associated with the lease or sale of a bakeshop, as in the Mitchel case; such a contract should be tested by a "rule of reason," meaning that it should be deemed legitimate if "necessary and ancillary."
An example of the naked type of restraint would be the price-fixing and bid-allocation agreements involved in the Addyston case. Taft said that "we do not think there is any question of reasonableness open to the courts to such a contract." The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment. During the following century, the Addyston Pipe opinion of Judge Taft has remained foundational in antitrust analysis; the 1911 decision of the Supreme Court in Standard Oil Company of New Jersey v. United States relied on Taft's rule-of-reason analysis. In that case, the Court concluded that a contract offended the Sherman Act only if the contract restrained trade "unduly"—that is, if the contract resulted in monopolistic consequences. A broader meaning, the Court suggested, would ban normal and usual contracts, would thus infringe liberty of contract; the Court therefore endorsed the rule of reason enunciated in Addyston Pipe, which in turn derived from Mitchel v Reynolds and the common law of restraints of trade.
In more recent cases, court continue to base their rulings on the Mitchel framework, but attention has turned to such issues as "necessary to do what?" and "how necessary compared to collateral damage?" For example if a restraint is necessary and ancillary, within the meaning of the Mitchel and Addyston Pipe cases, it may still be an unreasonable restraint of trade
In law, common law is that body of law derived from judicial decisions of courts and similar tribunals. The defining characteristic of "common law" is. In cases where the parties disagree on what the law is, a common law court looks to past precedential decisions of relevant courts, synthesizes the principles of those past cases as applicable to the current facts. If a similar dispute has been resolved in the past, the court is bound to follow the reasoning used in the prior decision. If, the court finds that the current dispute is fundamentally distinct from all previous cases, legislative statutes are either silent or ambiguous on the question, judges have the authority and duty to resolve the issue; the court states an opinion that gives reasons for the decision, those reasons agglomerate with past decisions as precedent to bind future judges and litigants. Common law, as the body of law made by judges, stands in contrast to and on equal footing with statutes which are adopted through the legislative process, regulations which are promulgated by the executive branch.
Stare decisis, the principle that cases should be decided according to consistent principled rules so that similar facts will yield similar results, lies at the heart of all common law systems. The common law—so named because it was "common" to all the king's courts across England—originated in the practices of the courts of the English kings in the centuries following the Norman Conquest in 1066; the British Empire spread the English legal system to its historical colonies, many of which retain the common law system today. These "common law systems" are legal systems that give great precedential weight to common law, to the style of reasoning inherited from the English legal system. Today, one-third of the world's population lives in common law jurisdictions or in systems mixed with civil law, including Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Cameroon, Cyprus, Fiji, Grenada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Jamaica, Liberia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Namibia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Tobago, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zimbabwe.
Some of these countries have variants on common law systems. The term common law has many connotations; the first three set out here are the most-common usages within the legal community. Other connotations from past centuries are sometimes seen and are sometimes heard in everyday speech; the first definition of "common law" given in Black's Law Dictionary, 10th edition, 2014, is "The body of law derived from judicial decisions, rather than from statutes or constitutions. This usage is given as the first definition in modern legal dictionaries, is characterized as the “most common” usage among legal professionals, is the usage seen in decisions of courts. In this connotation, "common law" distinguishes the authority. For example, the law in most Anglo-American jurisdictions includes "statutory law" enacted by a legislature, "regulatory law" or “delegated legislation” promulgated by executive branch agencies pursuant to delegation of rule-making authority from the legislature, common law or "case law", i.e. decisions issued by courts.
This first connotation can be further differentiated into pure common law arising from the traditional and inherent authority of courts to define what the law is in the absence of an underlying statute or regulation. Examples include most criminal law and procedural law before the 20th century, today, most contract law and the law of torts. Interstitial common law court decisions that analyze and determine the fine boundaries and distinctions in law promulgated by other bodies; this body of common law, sometimes called "interstitial common law", includes judicial interpretation of the Constitution, of legislative statutes, of agency regulations, the application of law to specific facts. Publication of decisions, indexing, is essential to the development of common law, thus governments and private publishers publish law reports. While all decisions in common law jurisdictions are precedent, some become "leading cases" or "landmark decisions" that are cited often. Black's Law Dictionary 10th Ed. definition 2, differentiates "common law" jurisdictions and legal systems from "civil law" or "code" jurisdictions.
Common law systems place great weight on court decisions, which are considered "law" with the same force of law as statutes—for nearly a millennium, common law courts have had the authority to make law where no legislative statute exists, statutes mean what courts interpret them to mean. By contrast, in civil law jurisdictions, courts lack authority to act. Civil law judges tend to give less weight to judicial precedent, which means that a
The eggshell rule is a well-established legal doctrine in common law, used in some tort law systems, with a similar doctrine applicable to criminal law. The rule states that, in a tort case, the unexpected frailty of the injured person is not a valid defense to the seriousness of any injury caused to them; this rule holds that a tortfeasor is liable for all consequences resulting from their tortious activities leading to an injury to another person if the victim suffers an unusually high level of damage. The eggshell skull rule takes into account the physical and economic attributes of the plaintiff which might make them more susceptible to injury, it may take into account the family and cultural environment. The term implies that if a person had a skull as delicate as that of the shell of an egg, a tortfeasor, unaware of the condition injured that person's head, causing the skull unexpectedly to break, the defendant would be held liable for all damages resulting from the wrongful contact if the tortfeasor did not intend to cause such a severe injury.
In criminal law, the general maxim is that the defendant must "take their victims as they find them", as echoed in the judgment of Lord Justice Lawton in R v. Blaue, in which the defendant was held responsible for killing his victim, despite his contention that her refusal of a blood transfusion constituted novus actus interveniens; the doctrine is applied in all areas of torts – intentional torts and strict liability cases – as well as in criminal law. There is no requirement of physical contact with the victim – if a trespasser's wrongful presence on the victim's property so terrifies the victim that he has a fatal heart attack, the trespasser will be liable for the damages stemming from his original tort; the foundation for this rule is based on policy grounds. The courts do not want the defendant or accused to rely on the victim's own vulnerability to avoid liability; the thin skull rule is not to be confused with the related crumbling skull rule in which the plaintiff suffers from a detrimental position pre-existent to the occurrence of the present tort.
In the "crumbling skull" rule, the prior condition is only to be considered with respect to distinguishing it from any new injury arising from the present tort – as a means of apportioning damages in such a way that the defendant would not be liable for placing the plaintiff in a better position than they were in prior to the present tort. In an example, a person who has Osteogenesis Imperfecta is more to be injured in a motor vehicle accident. If the person with OI is hit from behind in a motor vehicle collision and suffers medical damages, it would not be a prudent defense to state that the Osteogenesis Imperfecta was the cause of the fracture. In the English case of Smith v Leech Brain & Co, an employee in a factory was splashed with molten metal; the metal burned him on his lip. He died three years from cancer triggered by the injury; the judge held that as long as the initial injury was foreseeable, the defendant was liable for all the harm. In 1891, the Wisconsin Supreme Court came to a similar result in Putney.
In that case, a boy threw a small kick at another from across the aisle in the classroom. It turned out that the victim had an unknown microbial condition, irritated, resulted in him losing the use of his leg. No one could have predicted the level of injury; the court found that the kicking was unlawful because it violated the "order and decorum of the classroom", the perpetrator was therefore liable for the injury. In Benn v. Thomas, the appellate court determined that the eggshell rule should have been applied to a case in which a man had a heart attack and died after being bruised in the chest during a rear-end car accident. In the Australian case of Nader v Urban Transit Authority of NSW, the plaintiff was a 10 year old boy who struck his head on a bus stop pole while alighting from a moving bus, he developed a rare psychological condition known as Ganser Syndrome. The defendant argued. McHugh JA said, "The defendant must take the plaintiff with all his weaknesses and reactions as well as his capacities and attributes, physical and economic.
If the result of an accident is that a ten year old boy reacts to his parents’ concern over his injuries and develops an hysterical condition, no reason of justice, morality or entrenched principle appears to me to prevent his recovery of compensation." In the Australian case of Kavanagh v Akhtar, the court held the tortfeasor should take into account the plaintiff's family and cultural setting. Equality before the law puts a heavy onus on the person who would argue that the "unusual" reaction of an injured plaintiff should be disregarded because a minority religious or cultural situation may not have been foreseeable. Intervening cause is an exception to the eggshell skull rule. If an injury is not immediate, but a separate situation agitates the injury, the tortfeasor is not liable under common law in Australia. In Haber v Walker it was held that a plaintiff will not be liable for a novus actus interveniens if the chain of causation was broken by a voluntary, human act or, an independent event, which in conjunction with the wrongful act, was so unlikely as to
In tort law, detinue is an action to recover for the wrongful taking of personal property. It is initiated by an individual who claims to have a greater right to their immediate possession than the current possessor. For an action in detinue to succeed, a claimant must first prove that he had better right to possession of the chattel than the defendant and second that the defendant refused to return the chattel once demanded by the claimant. Detinue allows for a remedy of damages for the value of the chattel, but unlike most other interference torts, detinue allows for the recovery of the specific chattel being withheld. Detinue came in two forms: "detinue sur bailment" and "detinue sur trover". In detinue sur bailment, the defendant is in a bailment relationship with the claimant and either refuses to return the chattel or else has negligently or intentionally lost or destroyed it; the onus is on the bailee to prove that the loss of the chattel was not her fault. In detinue sur trover, the defendant can be any individual in possession of the chattel who refuses to return it to the claimant.
A defendant could be a finder or a thief or any innocent third party, the claimant need only have a better right to possession. Early writs and forms of action were exceptionally narrow in scope; this is reflective of the basic conservatism of the Common Law courts in the middle and late medieval period. This was in contrast with the Courts of Equity which were creative in producing novel writs for many new fact situations. Compensation in those days was not in money, rare, but in land, livestock, or furnishings, as these were the typical measures of wealth. What the plaintiff wanted back was the land, cattle or coins lent. Maitland suggests that in the earliest time the writ of debt seems to have been designed to recover identical coins; the early writ of detinue was designed for recovery of a chattel wrongfully detained, but not an action to recover loss due to a chattel being harmed while the defendant had it. Two facts marked the early common law actions, they were defective because of the wide field, excluded.
They were defective because the plaintiff might well think himself entitled to a remedy, but by reason of the procedure find that he went away empty. The defendant to a writ of debt or detinue might bring others with him who would swear that his denial of the claim was true; this was technically called his "wage of law" or "wager of law". It was enough to dispose of the plaintiff's claim. A common way to escape all writs the writ of right, as well as debt and detinue was to claim sickness. If the jury found him in bed with his boots off, the custom was to delay the writ for a year and a day. One of the oldest actions in the royal courts was replevin which had its roots in the law of customary courts. Speaking, replevin in its original form was a provisional remedy, its provision was to procure for the plaintiff the return of chattels taken out of his possession until the right to their possession could be decided by a court of law. No doubt, it was designed to avoid quarrels to cause a breach of the peace pending a settlement of the dispute about the right to possession.
In other words, the rule of law was beginning to replace that of local force of arms and personal conflict as the resolution of disputes over chattels. The action was in direct succession to the efforts made to regulate self-help, which were the origin of the law of tort; the form of legal recourse was in connection of distress. This was the practice of taking some chattel from the peasant or underling until some action was performed. In the medieval era the services for which distress could be levied were numerous, since the incidents of tenure were very numerous. Distress was leviable as damage feasant; when animals strayed and did damage to a neighbor, they could be retained until the damage was made good. Whether or not the distress was levied for rent or for livestock damage feasant, the owner of the animals could obtain their release by giving "gage and pledge" - a form of security that the damage would be made good. One peculiarity of distraint lay in the fact that the distrainor did not get any form of legal possession.
The goods and chattels were considered to be in the custody of the law. As a result, there was no taking of possession by the distrainor, unlawful, since no possession was technically inferred.. The action in replevin began to appear in the thirteenth century, it seems clear that the action of replevin lay where the question to be determined was that of wrongful distress. Excess and abuse of distress was punished; the mere claim by the distrainor that he had a right to the chattels distrained was a technicality that ended the action in replevin. It was necessary to re-file using a new writ invented in the early fourteenth century, called the writ de proprietate probanda - a writ "concerning the proof of ownership.". Since the distrainor did not get possession he was not liable in trespass, the spheres of the two forms of action remained distinct. During the fourteenth century, after some vacillation by judges, it was held that the plaintiff could elect which remedy he chose when the chattels had been distrained.
It was held that replevin could be used in place of the writ of trespass de bonis aspotatis. In reality, there is little evidence this substitution occurred with any frequency, if at all.. The rule involved interference with the possession of a chattel by the rightful owner; the 1856 case of Mennie v. Blake gives. There it was stated: "It seems clear that replevin
Conversion is an intentional tort consisting of "taking with the intent of exercising over the chattel an ownership inconsistent with the real owner's right of possession". In the United Kingdom, it is a tort of strict liability, its equivalents in criminal law include criminal conversion. In those jurisdictions that recognise it, criminal conversion is a lesser crime than theft/larceny. Examples of conversion include: 1) Alpha cuts down and hauls away trees on land s/he knows is owned by Beta, without permission or privilege to do so. A common act of conversion in medieval times involved bolts of cloth that were bailed for safekeeping, which the bailee or a third party took and made clothes for their own use or for sale. Many questions concerning joint ownership in enterprises such as a partnership belong in equity, do not rise to the level of a conversion. Traditionally, a conversion occurs when some chattel is lost found by another who appropriates it to his own use without legal authority to do so.
It has applied in cases where chattels were bailed for safekeeping misused or misappropriated by the bailee or a third party. Conversion, as a purely civil wrong, is distinguishable from unjust enrichment. Theft is an act inconsistent with another's rights, theft will be conversion, but not all conversions are thefts. Conversion is different from unjust enrichment. If one claims an unjust enrichment, the person who has another's property may always raise a change of position defense, to say they have unwittingly used up the assets they were transferred. For conversion, there always must be an element of voluntarily dealing with another's property, inconsistently with their rights; the elements of conversion are: 1) Intent to convert the tangible or intangible property of another to one's own possession and use, 2) The property in question is subsequently converted. In another formulation, it has been stated that one claiming conversion must show a tortious conversion of the chattel, a right to property in it, a right to immediate possession, absolute and not dependent upon the performance of some act.
Conversion has been described as a fascinating tort, albeit one which has eluded the attention of legal writers. The literature laps over into that of trover. Other sources define conversion as a distinct act of dominion wrongfully exerted over another's personal property in denial of or inconsistent with his title or rights therein, or in derogation, exclusion, or defiance of such title or rights, without the owner's consent and without lawful justification. A conversion occurs when a person does such acts in reference to the personal property of another as amount, in view of the law, to his appropriating the property for himself; the action developed because there was no equivalent form of action in English law to the Roman law rei vindicatio. This was an action in protection of one's property, whereby a claimant could allege in court "that's mine!". Early cases of conversion are to be found in 1479, where reference to an earlier action on the case is made when the defendant "converted" the goods by changing their character, making clothes out of gold cloth.
Otherwise, conversion had its origin in the common law action in trover, as a branch of action on the case. The earliest cases are most lost; these involved cases when the finder of lost goods did not return them to the rightful owner, but used them himself or disposed of them to someone else. It became necessary to invent a new writ which covered the gap between action in trespass which lay for the wrongful taking of a chattel, detinue which lay for its wrongful detention; the claim in conversion had become standardized by 1554 in the case of Lord Mounteagle v Countess of Worcester 2 Dyer 121a, 73 ER 265. The plaintiff was in possession of certain goods, he casually lost them, the defendant found the goods and did not return them, but instead "converted them to his own use."There is a distinction between trover and conversion. Trover resolved the old procedural problem of wager of law which had developed as a form of licensed perjury, which made detinue unattractive to an honest plaintiff suing a dishonest defendant.
Wager at law allowed testimony from many witnesses, who might have nothing to do with the actual litigation. In this sense, it was not much different from maintenance; because trover sidestepped these old problems, there was an effort to expand it into many different forms. The legal device to accomplish this at first was to treat the allegation of losing the goods and finding them as a fiction; this method was seen in several cases in the 17th century. As a technical factor, the defendant was not permitted to deny losing and finding, so the only issues to be litigated were those of the plaintiff's right to possession and the conversion as an existent fact. With losing and finding no longer essential, trover became the standard remedy for any form of interference with a chattel, it replaced detinue, which fell into complete disuse. It replaced trespass to chattels to such an extent that the former was seen. In 1756, Lord Mansfield stated in Cooper v Chitty 1 Burr 20, 31. Similar results are seen in other cases from the time.
The two actions were regarded as alternative remedies for the same wrong. The plaintiff had a choice of action, although there were differences b
Defamation, vilification, or traducement is the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of, depending on the law of the country, an individual, product, government, religion, or nation. Under common law, to constitute defamation, a claim must be false and must have been made to someone other than the person defamed; some common law jurisdictions distinguish between spoken defamation, called slander, defamation in other media such as printed words or images, called libel. False light laws protect against statements which are not technically false, but which are misleading. In some civil law jurisdictions, defamation is treated as a crime rather than a civil wrong; the United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled in 2012 that the libel law of one country, the Philippines, was inconsistent with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as urging that "State parties should consider the decriminalization of libel". In Saudi Arabia, defamation of the state, or a past or present ruler, is punishable under terrorism legislation.
A person who defames another may be called a "defamer", "libeler", "slanderer", or a "famacide". The term libel is derived from the Latin libellus; as of 2017, at least 130 UNESCO Member States retained criminal defamation laws. In 2017, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media issued a report on criminal defamation and anti-blasphemy laws among its Member States, which found that defamation is criminalized in nearly three-quarters of the 57 OSCE participating States. Many of the laws pertaining to defamation include specific provisions for harsher punishment for speech or publications critical of heads of state, public officials, state bodies and the State itself; the OSCE report noted that blasphemy and religious insult laws exist in around one third of OSCE participating States. In Africa, at least four Member States decriminalized defamation between 2012 and 2017; the ruling by the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights in Lohé Issa Konaté v. the Republic of Burkina Faso set a precedent in the region against imprisonment as a legitimate penalty for defamation, characterizing it as a violation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the treaty of the Economic Community of West African States.
Countries in every region have moved to advance the criminalization of defamation by extending legislation to online content. Cybercrime and anti-terrorism laws passed throughout the world have led to bloggers appearing before courts, with some serving time in prison; the United Nations, OSCE, Organisation of American States and African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Special Rapporteurs for Freedom of Expression stated in a joint declaration in March 2017 that ‘general prohibitions on the dissemination of information based on vague and ambiguous ideas, including "false news" or "non-objective information", are incompatible with international standards for restrictions on freedom of expression...and should be abolished.’ The common law origins of defamation lie in the torts of "slander" and "libel", each of which gives a common law right of action. Defamation is the general term used internationally, is used in this article where it is not necessary to distinguish between "slander" and "libel".
Libel and slander both require publication. The fundamental distinction between libel and slander lies in the form in which the defamatory matter is published. If the offending material is published in some fleeting form, as by spoken words or sounds, sign language, gestures or the like it is slander. Libel is defined as defamation by written or printed words, pictures, or in any form other than by spoken words or gestures; the law of libel originated in the 17th century in England. With the growth of publication came the growth of libel and development of the tort of libel. An early example of libel is the case of John Peter Zenger in 1735. Zenger was hired to publish New York Weekly Journal; when he printed another man's article that criticized William Cosby, British Royal Governor of Colonial New York, Zenger was accused of seditious libel. The verdict was returned as Not Guilty on the charge of seditious libel, because it was proven that all the statements Zenger had published about Cosby had been true, so there was not an issue of defamation.
Another example of libel is the case of New York Times Sullivan. The U. S. Supreme Court overruled a State court in Alabama that had found The New York Times guilty of libel for printing an advertisement that criticized Alabama officials for mistreating student civil rights activists. Though some of what The Times printed was false, the Court ruled in its favor, saying that libel of a public official requires proof of actual malice, defined as a "knowing or reckless disregard for the truth". There are several things. In the United States, a person must prove that 1) the statement was false, 2) caused harm, 3) was made without adequate research into the truthfulness of the statement; these steps are for an ordinary citizen. For a celebrity or public official, a person must prove the first three steps, that the statement was made with the intent to do harm or with reckless disregard for the truth, specifically referred to as "actual malice". At one time, the honour of peers was protected