Libel Claims by Doctors

Defamation, Libel and Slander Claims for Medical DoctorsDefamation Claims Made by Doctors

Doctors on occasions may seek to make a claim for damages by way of a defamation claim, for libel (written word) or slander (spoken word), where an employer, organisation, newspaper or other individual person has made damaging comments about them. A claim should be brought within twelve months of any comments complained about.

Alternatively, a doctor might on occasions be sued for damages for comments that they have made about another doctor, company or person. A robust defence may be necessary and the comments (written or spoken) made by a doctor may have been entirely fair comment.

Not all defamation claims are actionable. Allegations made to the GMC have been held not to be actionable in at least one case (see our article: Immunity from Suit for Complainants) and the public policy reasons cited in the case may mean that other similar matters are not actionable. In some instances, a doctor may be able to bring a claim because a former employer has given a malicious reference. For further discussion on this issue view our Malicious Testimonials page. A claimant doctor must prove on the balance of probabilities that their claim is true. Quality evidence will need to be obtained for any claim to succeed.

Case Law on Libel

Wilson v Mendelsohn & Ors [2022] EWHC 715 (QB) – Confirming current case law on defamation claims. Concerns Facebook posts and twitter tweets, forwarded and commented upon. Preliminary issue on whether content is defamatory as a matter of law. (March 2022)

A useful judgment on the concepts of defamation law, in the case of a libel claim brought against the BBC, which related to alleged pronouncements on Islam made by a UK citizen: Begg v British Broadcasting Corporation [2016] EWHC 2688 (QB) (October 2016)

In Wright v Ver [2020] EWCA Civ 672 the Court of Appeal set out the criteria for where (jurisdictionally) a libel case should be heard, based on various factors. England and Wales may not be the best place to bring a claim, and an overseas claim might need to be made instead. The court may bar a claim that is not best suited to be tried in England and Wales. (May 2020)

Call Doctors Defence Service to discuss any potential defamation, libel or slander claim or defence on: 0800 10 88 739