Continuing on in our series on the defenses to a cause of action for defamation relates to statements made in a legislative proceeding. Like statements made in judicial proceedings, statements which are made in legislative proceedings are absolutely privileged pursuant to Civil Code section 47(b).
This defense applies to statements made by participants in state and local legislative bodies as well. But these sorts of defenses can be much broader than you think, which why it’s usually best to hire a defamation lawyer (and that’s NOT self-serving). Let me explain.
In the case of Cayley v. Nunn (1987) 190 Cal.App.3d 300, the plaintiff sued the defendant for slander since the defendant allegedly circulated a petition for neighborhood support for the defendant’s requested height variance. Since the defendant’s remarks about the height variance and the plaintiff were made in preparation of the legislative proceeding and had a logical relationship to the proceeding, the communications were held to be privileged. Now to the average lay person, you would think that this kind of statement would not be privileged because it is not made "in a legislative proceeding." Obviously, this is not the case.