Libel Per Se Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Libel Per Se, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Libel Per Se?

(n) Libel Per Se is a false statement printed or otherwise broadcasted, containing wrong information about the person or entity where the intention of such publication is to defame such persons or entity. Eg. Announcement or report accusing a person as involved in immoral activities. Such statements are generated with the intention to defame so malicious intention need not be established to claim damages

History and Meaning of Libel Per Se

Libel Per Se is a legal term that has been around for centuries. The term "libel" comes from the Latin word "libellus," meaning a little book, and "per se" means "by itself." So, Libel Per Se translates to "libel in itself."

In the context of law, Libel Per Se refers to a false and defamatory statement that harms a person's reputation without requiring any proof of the statement's falsity or the speaker's malicious intent. This type of libel characterizes the statement's harmful nature and does not necessarily require the plaintiff to prove special damages.

In the United States, plaintiffs need to establish that the statement was false and that they suffered actual harm because of the statement. However, some states maintain the common law Libel Per Se doctrine that treats certain statements as inherently harmful without the need for actual proof of damages.

Examples of Libel Per Se

Here are some examples of Libel Per Se:

  • Accusing someone of committing a serious crime such as murder or burglary without any evidence.
  • Saying that someone has a contagious disease.
  • Accusing someone of engaging in professional misconduct or unethical behavior.
  • Spreading false rumors that someone is dishonest or corrupt.

Legal Terms Similar to Libel Per Se

Here are some legal terms related to Libel Per Se:

  • Slander: the spoken form of defamation
  • Defamation: an overarching term that covers both libel and slander
  • Actual Malice: a standard of liability that applies to public figures or officials in defamation cases
  • Per Quod: a type of libel that requires the plaintiff to prove that the defamatory statement caused them harm.