Waging Wars with Words – Libel and Slander in the Polish Statutory Law and English Common Law
Languages of publication
This paper aims to investigate the differences between the concepts of libel and slander as understood by the Polish statutory and English common law. As it turns out, the above terms are not only divergent with regard to language (varying linguistic contexts) but also with regard to corresponding acts in the real world. Western cultures cherish such values as dignity, honour and self-fulfillment as the underlying rights of a citizen in democratic countries. The above terms are being constantly referred to in international treaties and conventions but the question which should be asked is whether they receive due attention in legal practice. As regards interpretation, not only in theory (which is rather scarce, especially in common law), but also in practice (the court verdicts in cases dealing with libel and slander) the important issue is not how the defamatory statement makes the person referred to feel, but the impression it is likely to make on those reading it (McBride, Bagshaw, 2008 in: Quinn, 2007:209). The subsequent analysis of particular cases in the practical part supports the above claim. Although it is reiterated by the Polish legal academics that civil regulations are not sufficient to guarantee legal protection of dignity, there is an equal or even greater amount of supporters of the broadly conceived “freedom of speech”. The discussion might be summarized as involving the proponents of liberal and democratic policies on the one hand, and those who wish to avoid complete decriminalization of libel and slander and deem them necessary components of balance in a democratic state
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