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How is the monetary compensation of a civil defamation case calculated?

Defamation or Libel can occur when someone makes a false statement about you and thus damages your reputation. In this article, we will discuss how you can calculate your damages in a libel or defamation case – in other words, how you can figure out your actual compensation claim.

Let’s first understand the difference between ‘Libel’ and ‘Slander’. Libel and Slander both constitute defamatory statements. However, the difference is that ‘Libel’ constitutes a defamatory statement that is written, while ‘Slander’ constitutes a defamatory statement that is oral in nature.

Calculating the damages:

Damages are of two kinds: Quantified damages and unquantified damages.

Damages are ‘Quantified Damages’ when they can be accurately calculated. On the other hand, if it is not possible to accurately determine the damages, such damages are termed as ‘Unquantified Damages’.

A Plaintiff in a defamation case might be able to claim ‘quantified damages’ by showcasing actual loss caused to his earnings, loss in business, loss of opportunity etc., due to the direct effect of such defamatory action. Such damages are capable of being calculated to near accuracy and are also easier to claim.

On the other hand, when the nature of the damages makes it challenging to determine in monetary sums, such as when a person suffers from emotional and mental anguish, loss of confidence, sleep disorders etc. It is not easy to quantify such damages as there does not exist any direct measuring parameters to quantify this.

Defamation in the UAE:

Defamation constitutes a criminal offence in the UAE. Article 372 and 373 of the Federal law No. 3 of 1987 promulgating the penal code (‘UAE penal code’). Article 373 of the UAE penal code specifically states that if the defamatory act is caused through publication in a newspaper or printed media, then such actions constitute an aggravated offence calling for more stringent punishments.

Article (372)

Whoever attributes to another person, by any means of publicity, an incident which makes him liable to punishment or contempt, shall be punished by detention for a period not exceeding two years or by a fine not exceeding twenty thousand Dirhams.

Punishment by detention and a fine or by either of these two penalties shall be applied if the Libel is committed against a public official or one who is in charge of a public service, during, in respect of, or on the occasion of performing the duties or public services assigned to him, or if the Libel affects the honor or injuries the reputation of families, or if it is observed that the Libel is intended to achieve an illicit purpose.

If Libel is committed by means of a publication in any of the newspapers or other printed media, it shall be considered an aggravating circumstance.

Article (373)

Detention for a period not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding ten thousand Dirhams shall be imposed upon anyone who, by any means of publicity, disgraces the honor or the modesty of another person without attributing any particular act to the defamed party.

Detention for a period not exceeding two years and a fine not exceeding twenty thousand Dirhams, or either of these two penalties, shall apply if a public official or one who is in charge of a public service has been abused during, because of, or on the occasion of performing his duty or public service, if the abuse affects the honor or injures the reputation of families, or if it is noticed that the abuse is intended to achieve an illegal purpose.

However, if the abuse is published in any newspaper or printed media, it shall be considered an aggravated case.

Even though a civil claim for defamation cannot be raised in the UAE, a civil claim for the damages caused due to defamation still applies. An experienced professional lawyer can advise you on the possible claims that you can raise in a defamation case and guide you in determining the damages caused, whether monetary or otherwise.

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