Doctors’ Testimonials and Defamation or Malice Claims

In Thour v The Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust [2012] EWHC 1473 (QB) the court held that the contents of a reference provided by a previous employer to a new employer are covered by qualified privilege. The claimant, an NHS employee, failed in his claim in defamation. The court held that public policy requires honest testimonials to be formulated in health care settings. If, however, a doctor can prove that the testimonial was made in bad faith or out of malice, there may be an actionable claim. The court opined that: “In order to prove malice a claimant must prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant knew what he wrote was false or was reckless as to whether it was true or false.” (May 2012)

For more information on potential claims where testimonials are inaccurate, contact Doctors Defence Service. See also our article on Defamation Claims