DEFAMATION LAW OF LAGOS STATE

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LIST OF LAWS OF LAGOS, [ALPHABETICAL]  
A- C G – K M – I R – T
D – F L – L P – P U – Z

DEFAMATION LAW

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

1.       Broadcast statements

2.       Slander affecting official professional or business reputation

3.       Slander of title

4.       Single Publication Rule

5.       Offer to Make Amends

6.       Accepting an Offer to Make amends

7.       Failure to Accept an Offer to Make Amends

8.       Serious Harm

9.       Truth

10.     Honest opinion

11.     Publications on Matter of Public Interest

12.     Operators of Websites

13.     Peer-Reviewed Statements in Scientific or Academic Journal

14.     Responsibility for Publication

15.     Reports of Court Proceedings Absolutely Privileged

16.     Reports Protected by Qualified Privilege

17.     Action against a person who was not the author, editor etc

18.     Consolidation of Actions for Defamation

19.     Repeal

20.     Interpretation

20.     Citation and Commencement

SCHEDULE

PART 1 – Interpretation.

PART 2 – Statement privileged without explanation or contradiction

PART 3 – Statement privileged subject to explanation or contradiction

CHAPTER D2

DEFAMATION LAW

A Law to make provisions with respect to libel slander and other malicious falsehood and for purposes connected therewith.

[1961 No. 66. 1963 No. I. L.N. 139 of 1965.]

[28th December, 1961] [Commencement.]

1.       Broadcast statements

For the purposes of the law of libel and slander, the broadcasting of words by means of wireless telegraphy or by any other electronic means will be treated as publication in permanent form.

2.   Slander affecting official professional or business reputation

In an action for slander in respect of words calculated to disparage the plaintiff in any office, profession, calling, trade or business held or carried on by him at the time of the publication, it will not be necessary to allege or prove special damage, whether or not the words are spoken of the plaintiff in the cause of his office, profession, calling, trade or business.

3.   Slander of title

(1)     In an action for slander of title, slander of goods or other malicious falsehood, it shall not be necessary to allege of or prove special damage:

(a)     if the words upon which the action is founded are calculated to cause pecuniary damage to the plaintiff and are published in writing or other permanent form; or

(b)     if the said words are calculated to cause pecuniary damage to the plaintiff in respect of any office, profession, calling, trade or business held or carried on by him at the time of the publication.

(2)     The provision of this Section also applies for the purposes of the law of libel and slander.

4.       Single Publication Rule

(1)     The Section applies if a person –

          (a)     publisher a statement to the public (“the first publication”); and 

          (b)     subsequently publishes (whether or not to the public) that statement or a statement which is substantially the                   same.

(2)     In subsection (1) “publication to the public” includes publication to a Section of the public.

(3)     For the purposes of the Limitation Law of Lagos State (time limit for actions for defamation, etc.) any cause of action          against the person for defamation in respect of the subsequent publication si to be treated on the date of the first          publication.

(4)     The Section does not apply in  relation to the subsequent publication if the manner of that publication is materially   different from the manner of the first publication.

 (5)    In determining whether the manner of a subsequent publication is materially different from the manner of the first    publication, the matters to which the court may have regard include the –

          (a)     the level of prominence that a statement is given;

          (b)     the extent of the subsequent publication.

5.       Offer to Make Amends

(1)     A person who has published a statement alleged to defamatory of another may make an offer to make amends under     this Section.

 (2)    The offer may be in relation to the statement generally or in relation to a specific defamatory meaning which the          person making the offer accepts that the statement conveys (“a qualified offer”).

(3)     An offer to make amends must –

(a)     be in writing;

(b)     be expressed to be an offer to make amends under this Section; and

(c)     state whether it is qualified offer and, it so, set out the defamatory meaning in relation to which it is made.

(4)     An offer to make amends is an offer to –

          (a)     make a suitable correction of the statement complained of and a sufficient apology to the aggrieved party;

          (b)     publish the corrections and apology in like manner as the offending publication; and

          (c)     pay to the aggrieved party such compensation (if any) and such costs as may be agreed or determined ot be                          payable.  

(5)     The fact that the offer is accompanied by an offer to take specific steps does not affect the fact that an offer to make         amends under this Section is an offer to do all the things mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (c) of subsection (4) of the      Section.

(6)     An offer to make amends may not be made by a person after serving a defence in defamation proceedimgs brought       against him by the aggrieved party in respect of the publication in question.

(7)     An offer to make amends may be withdrawn before it is accepted , and a renewal of an offer which has been       withdrawn will be treated as a new offer.

6.       Accepting an Offer to Make amends

(1)     If an offer to make amends under subsection 5 is accepted by the aggrieved party, the following provisions apply.

(2)     The party accepting the offer may not bring or continue defamation proceedings in respect of the publication concerned against the person making the offer, but the party is entitled to enforce the offer to make amends, as          contained in the subsequent provisions of this Section.   

(3)     If the parties agree on the steps to be taken in fulfilment of the offer, the aggrieved party may apply to the court for         an order that the other party fulfil the offer by taking the steps agreed.

(4)     If the parties do not agree on the steps to be taken by way of correction , apology and publication, the party who         made the offer may take appropriate steps in –

          (a)     making the correction and apology by a statement in open court in terms approved by the court; and

          (b)     giving an undertaking to the court as to the manner of their publication.

(5)     If the parties do not agree on the amount to be paid by way of compensation, it will be determined by the Court on      the same principles as damages in defamation proceedings.

(6)     The court will take account of any steps taken in fulfilment of the offer and (so far as not agreed between the parties)     of the suitability of the correction, the sufficiency of the apology and whether the manner of their publication was   reasonable in the circumstances. The court may also reduce or increase the amount of compensation accordingly.

(7)     If the parties do not agree on the amount to be paid by way of costs, it will be determined by the court on the same          principles as costs awarded in court proceedings.

(8)     The acceptance of an offer by one person to make amends does not affect any cause of action against another person   in respect of the same publication.

7.       Failure to Accept an Offer to Make Amends

(1)     If an offer to make amends duly made and not withdrawn, is not accepted by an aggrieved party, the following         provisions apply.

(2)     The fact that the offer was made is a defence (subject to subsection (3) of this Section) to defamation proceedings in        respect of the publication in question by that party against the person making the offer. A qualified offer is only a          defence in respect of the meaning to which the offer related.

(3)     There is no such defence if the person by whom the offer was made knew or had reason to believe that the statement        complained of –

(a)     referred to the aggrieved party or was likely to be understood to do so; nd

(b)     was both false and defamatory of that party; but it shall be presumed until the contrary is shown that the party did          not know and had no reason to believe that was the case.   

(4)     The person who made the offer need not rely on it by way of defence else the person may not rely on any other other       defence. If the offer was a qualified offer, this applies only in respect of the meaning to which the offer related.

(5)     The offer may be relied on in mitigation of damages whether or not it was relied on as a defence.

8.       Serious Harm

(1)     A statement is not defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of          the claimant.

(2)     For the purposes of this Section, harm to the reputation of a body that trades for profit is not “serious harm” unless it      has caused or is likely to cause the body serious financial loss.

Defences

9.       Truth

(1)     It is a defence to an action for defamation for the defendant to show that the imputation conveyed by the statement      complained of is substantially true.

(2)     Subsection (3) applies in an action for defamation if the statement complained of conveys two or more distinct        imputations.

(3)     If one or more of the imputation is not true and does not seriously harm the claimant’s reputation the defence under   this Section dos not fail having regard to the imputations which are true.     

(4)     The common law defence of justification is abolished.

10.     Honest opinion

(1)     It is a defence to an action to an action for defamation for the defendant to show that the following conditions are met.

(2)     The first condition is that the statement complained of was a statement of opinion.

(3)     The second condition is that the statement complained of indicated, whether in general or specific terms, the basis of        the opinion.

 (4)    The third condition is that an honest person could have held the opinion on the basis of –

(a)     any fact which existed at the time the statement complained of was published; or

(b)     anything asserted to be a fact in a privileged statement published before the statement complained of.

(5)     The defence is defeated if the claimant shows that the defendant did not hold the opinion.

(6)     Subsection (5) does not apply in a case where the statement complained of was published by the defendant but made      by another person (“the author”), and in such a case the defence is defeated if the claimant shows that the dfefendant     knew or ought to have known that the author did not hold the opinion.

 (7)    For the purposes of subsection (4) (b) a statement is a “privileged statement” if the person responsible for its publication would have one or more of th following defences if an action for defamation were brought in respect of a defence –

(a)     under section 11 (responsible publication on matter of public interest)

(b)     under section 13 (peer-reviewed statement in scientific or academic journal)

(c)     under section 15 (reports of court proceedings protected by absolute privilege)

(d)     under section 16 of that Act (reports protected by qualified privilege).

(8)     The common law defence of fair comment is abolished.  

11.     Publications on Matter of Public Interest

(1)     It is a defence to an action for defamation for the defendant to show that –

(a)     the statement complained of was, or formed part of, a statement on a matter of public interest; and

(b)     the defendant reasonably believed that publishing the statement complained of was in the public interest.

(2)     Subject to subsections (3) and (4), in determining whether the defendant has shown the matters mentioned in      subsection (1), the court must have regard to all the circumstances of the case.

(3)     If the statement complained of was, or formed part of, an accurate and impartial account of a dispute to which the     claimant was a party, the court must in determining whether it was reasonable for the defendant to believe that          publishing the statement was in the public interest disregard any omission of the defendant to take steps to verify the          truth of the imputation conveyed by it.

 (4)    In determining whether it was reasonable for the defendant to believe that publishing the statement complained of          was in the public interest, the court must make such allowance for editorial judgment as it considers appropriate.

 (5)    For the avoidance of doubt, the defence under this Section may be relied on irrespective of whether the statement    complained of is a statement of fact or a statement of opinion.

 (6)    The common law defence known as the Reynolds defence is abolished.

12.     Operators of Websites

(1)     This Section applies where an action for defamation is brought against the operator of a website in respect of a    statement posted on the website.

(2)     It is a defence for the operator to show that it was not the operator who posted the statement on the website.

(3)     The defence is defeated if the claimant shows that –

(a)     it was not possible for the claimant to identify the person who posted the statement;

(b)     the claimant gave the operator a notice of compliant in relation to the statement; and

(c)     the operator failed to respond to the notice of compliant in accordance with any provision contained in regulations made under this law.

 (4)    For the purposes of subsection (3)(a), it is possible for a claimant to “identify” a person only if the claimant has          sufficient information to bring proceedings against the person.

(5)     Regulations made by the Commissioner for Information or any person charged with ministerial responsibility over    matters concerning information in the State may make –

(a)     provision as to the action required to be taken by an operator of a website in response to a notice of complaint (which        may in particular include action relating to the identity or contact details of the person who posted the statement and        action relating to its removal);

(b)     provision specifying a time limit for the taking of any such action;

(c)     provision conferring on the court a discretion to treat the action taken after the expiry fo a time limit as having been          taken before the expiry; 

(d)     any other provision for the purposes of this Section.

(6)     Subject to any provision made by virtue of subsection (7), a notice of complaint is a notice which –

(a)     specifies the complainant’s name;

(b)     sets out the statement concerned and explains why it is defamatory of the complainant;

(c)     specifies where on the website the statement was posted; and

(d)     contains such other information as may be specified in regulations.

(7)     Regulations may make provision about the circumstances in which a notice which is not a notice of complaint is to be       treated as a notice of complaint is to be treated as a notice of complaint for the purposes of this Section or any   provision made under it.

(8)     Regulations under this Section may make different provision for different circumstances.

(9)     The defence under this Section is defeated if the claimant shows that the operator of the website has acted with    malice in relation to the posting of the statement concerned.

(10)   The defence under this Section  is not defeated by reason only of the fact that the operator of the website moderates          the statements posted on it by others.

13.     Peer-Reviewed Statements in Scientific or Academic Journal

(1)     The publication of a statement in a scientific or academic journal (whether published in electronic form or otherwise) is           privileged if the following conditions are met.

(2)     The first condition is that the statement relates to a scientific or academic matter.

(3)     The second condition is that before the statement was

14.     Responsibility for Publication

(1)     In defamation proceedings a person would have a defence if it can be shown that the person –

(a)     was not the author, editor or publisher of the statement complained of;

(b)     took reasonable care in relation to its publication; and

(c)     did not know, and had no reason to believe, that what was done did cause or contributed to the publication of a         defamatory statement.

(2)     A person will not be considered the author, editor or publisher of a statement if the person is only involved –

(a)     in printing, producing, distributing or selling printed material containing the statement;

(b)     in processing, making copies of, distributing, exhibiting or selling a film or sound recording containing the statement;

(c)     in processing, making copies of, distributing or selling any electronic medium in or on which the statement is recorded,        or in operating or providing any equipment, system or service by means of which the statement irs retrieved, copied,        distributed or made available in electronic form;

(d)     as the broadcaster of a live programme containing the statement in circumstances in which the person has no effective control over the maker of the statement; or     

(e)     as the operator of or provider of access to a communications system by means of which the statement is transmitted,          or made available, by a person over whom he has no effective control.

(3)     In a case not within paragraphs (a) to (e) of subsection 3 the court may have  regard to those provisions by way of        analogy in deciding whether a person si to be considered the author, editor or publisher of a statement.

(4)     Employees or agents of an author, editor or publisher are in the same position as their employer or principal to the       extent that they are responsible for the content of the statement or the decision to publish it.

(5)     In determining for the purposes of this Section whether a person took reasonable care, or had reason to believe that        the action caused or contributed tio the publication fo a defamatory statement, regard will be had to –

(a)     the extent of the responsibility for the content of the statement or the decision to publish it;

(b)     the nature or circumstances of the publication; and

(c)     the previous conduct or character of the author, editor or publisher.

(6)     This Section does not apply to any cause of action which arose before the Section came into force.

15.     Reports of Court Proceedings Absolutely Privileged

(1)     A fair and accurate report in any newspaper of proceedings to which Section applies, if published contemporaneously   with proceedings, is absolutely privileged.

(2)     A report of proceedings which by an order of the court, or as a consequence of any statutory provision, is required to       be postponed will be treated as published contemporaneously if it is published as soon as practicable after publication          is permitted.

(3)     Nothing in this Section will authorise the publication of anything that is likely to constitute an offence under any law.

(4)     This Section applies to any court –

(a)     in Nigeria;

(b)     established under the law of a country or territory outside of Nigeria; or

(c)     or tribunal established by the United Nations organisation, the African Union or any of their respective organs or by an        international agreement to which Nigeria is a party. 

16.     Reports Protected by Qualified Privilege

(1)     The publication of any report or other statement mentioned in Schedule I to this Law is privileged unless the       publication is shown to, be made with malice.

(2)     The statements listed in Part I of the Schedule to this law are statements having  qualified privileged without explanation or contradiction required under subsection (3) of this Section.

(3)     In defamation proceedings in respect of the publication of a report or other statement mentioned in Part II of the        Schedule to this law, there is no defence under this Section if the plaintiff shows that the defendant –

(a)     was requested by defendant to publish in a suitable manner a reasonable letter or statement by way of explanation or    contradiction; and

(b)     refused or neglected to do so. For this purpose “in a suitable manner” means in the same manner as the publication         complained of or in a manner that is adequate and reasonable in the circumstances.

(4)     Nothing in this section shall be construed as –

(a)     protecting the publication of a matter the publication of which is prohibited by law; or

 (b)    limiting or abridging any privilege subsisting apart from this section.

17.     Action against a person who was not the author, editor etc

A court does not have jurisdiction to hear and determine an action for defamation brought against a person who was not the author, editor or publisher of the statement complained of unless the Court is satisfied that it is not reasonably practicable for an action to be brought against the author, editor or publisher.

18.   Consolidation of Actions for Defamation

(1)     A court may upon an application by or on behalf of two (2) or more defendants in actions in respect of the same, or substantially the same, libel brought by one and the same person, make an order for the consolidation of such actions, so that they shall be tried together; and after such order has been made, and before the trial of the said actions, the defendants in any new actions instituted in respect of the same or substantially the same, libel shall also be entitled to be joined in a common action upon a joint application being made by such new defendants and the defendants in the actions already consolidated.

(2)     In a consolidated action under this section the Judge shall assess the whole amount of the damages (if any) in one sum, but a separate verdict shall be taken for or against each defendant in the same way as if the actions consolidated had been tried separately; and if the judge shall have found a verdict against the defendant or defendants in more than one of the actions so consolidated, he shall proceed to apportion the amount of damages which he shall have so found between and against the said last mentioned defendants; and if the judge awards to the plaintiff the costs of the action, he shall thereupon make such order as he shall deem just for the apportionment of such costs between and against such defendants.

19.     Repeal

The Defamation Law, Cap D2 Laws of Lagos State 2003 is repealed.

20.     Interpretation

In this Law, unless the context otherwise requires—

          “author” means the originator of the statement, but does not include a person who did not intend that the statement         be published at all.

“broadcasting” means publication for public reception by means of wireless telegraphy within the meaning of the Wireless Telegraphy Act, or any other electronic device;

“court” means in relation to any claim, the court or arbitrator, as the case may be, by or before whom the claim falls to be determined and in all other cases, any court of competent jurisdiction and any tribunal or body exercising judicial power of the State or any adjudicatory organ of an international organisation.

          “editor” means a person having editorial or equivalent responsibility for the content of the statement or the decision to     publish it.

          “international conference” means a conference attended by representatives of two or more governments.

          “legislature” includes a local legislator or any international body exercising legislative powers.

          “publish” and “publication”, in relation to a statement, have the meaning they have for the purposes of the law of     defamation generally.

          “publisher” means a commercial publisher, that is, a person whose business is issuing material in the public, or a        section of the public, who issues material containing the statement or the course of that business.

          “statement” means words, pictures, visual images, gestures or any other method of signifying meaning.

20.     Citation

This Law will be cited as the Defamation Law 2015 and shall come into force on …………… day of …………….. 2015

SCHEDULE

QUALIFIED PRIVILEGE

PART 1 – STATEMENTS HAVING QUALIFIED PRIVILEGE WITHOUT EXPLANATION OR CONTRADICTION

1.       A fair and accurate report of any proceedings in public of a legislature anywhere in the world.

2.       A fair and accurate report of any proceedings in public before a court anywhere in the world.

3.       A fair and accurate report of proceedings in public of a person appointed to hold a public inquiry by a government or legislature anywhere in the world.

4.       A fair and accurate report of proceedings in public anywhere in the world  of an international organisation of which Nigeria is a member, or of any international conference to which Nigeria sends a representative.

5.       A fair and accurate report of any proceedings in public of an international court.

6.       A notice or advertisement published by or on the authority of a court, or of a judge or officer of such a court, anywhere in the world.

7.       A fair and accurate copy of or extract from matter published by or on the authority or officer of a court, anywhere in the world.

8.       A fair and accurate copy of or extract from matter published by or on the authority of a government or legislature anywhere in the world.

9.       A fair and accurate copy of or extract from matter published anywhere in the world by an international organisation or an international conference.

PART II  – STATEMENT PRIVILEGED SUBJECT TO EXPLANATION OR CONTRADICTION

9.       A fair and accurate report of or extract from a notice or other matter issued for the information of the public by or on behalf of—

(a)     a legislation or a government anywhere in the world;

(b)     an authority anywhere in the world performing governmental functions in any State;

(c)     an international organisation or international conference.

(2)     In this paragraph “governmental functions” includes Police functions.

10.     A fair and accurate copy of, or extract from or summary of a document made available by a court anywhere in the world, or by a judge or officer of any such court.

11(1) A fair and accurate report of the proceedings at any public meeting or sitting in Nigeria of –

          (a)     a local authority or local authority committee;

          (b)     a justice or justices of the peace acting otherwise than as a court exercising judicial authority;

          (c)     a commission, tribunal, committee or person appointed for the purpose of any inquiry by any statutory    provision;

           (d)    a person appointed by a local authority to hold a local inquiry in pursuance of any statutory provision;

          (e)     any other tribunal, board, committee or body  constituted by or under, and exercising functions under, any       statutory provision. 

(2)     A fair and accurate report fo proceedings of a press conference held anywhere in the world for the discussion of a matter of public interest.

12(1)          A fair and accurate report of the proceedings at any public meeting held anywhere in the world.

(2)     In this paragraph, a “public meeting” means a meeting bona fide and lawfully held for a lawful purpose and for the furtherance or discussion of a matter of public interest, whether admission to the meeting is general or restricted.

13(1)          A fair and accurate report of the proceedings at a general meeting of any public company.

(2)     A fair and accurate copy of or extract from or summary of any document circulated to members of a public company

          (a)     by or with the authority of the board of directors of the company;

          (b)     by the auditors of the company;

          (c)     by any member of the company in pursuance of a right conferred by any statutory provision.

(3)     A fair and accurate copy of or extract from or summary of any document circulated to members of a public company which relates ot the appointment, resignation, retirement or dismissal of directors of the company or its auditors.

14.     A fair and accurate report of any finding or decision of any of the following descriptions of association, formed in Nigeria, or anywhere in the world, or of any committee or governing body of such an association –

          (a)     an association formed for the purpose of promoting or encouraging the exercise of or interest in any art,                             science, religion or learning, and empowered by its constitution to exercise control over or adjudicate on                         matters of interest or concern to the association, or the actions or conduct of any person subject to such control                 or adjudication;

          (b)     an association formed for the purpose of promoting or safeguarding the interests of any trade, business,                           industry or profession, or of the persons carrying on or engaged in any trade, business, industry or profession,            and empowered by its constitution to exercise control over or adjudicate on matters connected with that trade,                   business, industry or profession, or the actions or conduct of those persons;

          (c)     an association formed for the purpose of promoting or safeguarding the interests of a game, sport or pastime to                   the playing or exercise of which members of the public are invited or admitted, and empowered by its                                constitution to exercise control over or adjudicate on persons connected with or taking part in the game, sport               or pastime.

14A.   A fair and accurate –

(a)     report of proceedings of a scientific in academic conference held anywhere in the world; or

(b)     copy of extract from or summary of matter published by such a conference.

15(1) A fair and accurate report of, or copy of or extract from, any adjudication report, statement or notice issued by          a        body, officer or other person designated for the purpose of this paragraph by the Lagos State Government.     

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