The Meaning of Libel Per Se

Here is a short post describing what libel per se means. In California an allegedly defamatory statement is said to be libelous per se if it is defamatory on its face. Meaning that it does not need any explanation. For example, accusing someone of a crime is libelous on its face. If a statement is libelous per se the plaintiff does not need to prove special damages. This is significant because many individual plaintiffs cannot demonstrate any special damages–they usually can only show general damages. But without evidence of any special damages, juries are typically reluctant to award any considerable amount of general damages.


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