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2. Is the conduct and the intention of parties in a defamation lawsuit important when it comes to the assessment of compensation?

Generally speaking, the conduct of the defendant and plaintiff and their states of mind are relevant factors to be considered if the plaintiff seeks to invoke aggravating damages (i.e. to ask for higher compensation) against the defendant.


In a case in the 1960s, the House of Lords in England ruled that the jury can take into account the motives and conduct of the defendant where they aggravated the injury done to the plaintiff. There may have been malevolence or spite in the manner of the defamatory conduct, increasing the injury to the plaintiff's proper feelings of dignity and pride. These are matters which the jury can take into account in assessing the appropriate compensation. The court has further ruled that in two categories of cases, an award of exemplary damages (a punitive compensation) against the defendant would be appropriate. The first category contains cases in which oppressive, arbitrary or unconstitutional acts are committed by the civil servants. The second category contains cases in which the defendant's conduct has been calculated to make a profit for himself which may well exceed the compensation payable to the plaintiff.


However, there are no general guidelines for calculating the amount of aggravating and exemplary damages. The amount to be awarded depends on the circumstances of each case.


In summary, everything which may worsen or mitigate the plaintiff's loss or injury is relevant.

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