Procedure: Criticism of performance was not defamatory


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Posted on 12 Jan 2011

In Daniels v British Broadcasting Corporation, the High Court has struck out a libel action brought by Mr Daniels against his former employer.

Mr Daniels complained that the employer's comments during a capability procedure; that the employee had made trivial errors, failed to follow instructions and failed to communicate adequately with colleagues, were defamatory.  The High Court disagreed, in the circumstances.  The Court explained that satisfying the legal requirements in such cases presents a high hurdle.  However, it was also noted that it is possible for a defamation action to be brought in such circumstances and therefore care should be taken to ensure that any criticism is well founded, is not provided with malice against the employee and confidentiality is maintained (i.e. that it is not imparted to others).

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