fair comment

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Fair Comment

A form of qualified privilege applied to news media publications relating to discussion of matters that are of legitimate concern to the community as a whole because they materially affect the interests of all the community. A term used in the defense of libel actions, applying to statements made by a writer (e.g., in the news media) in an honest belief in their truth, relating to official acts, even though the statements are not true in fact. Fair comment must be based on facts truly stated, must not contain imputations of corrupt or dishonorable motives except as warranted by the facts, and must be an honest expression of the writer's real opinion.

Fair comment is a privilege under the First Amendment to the Constitution and also applies to invasions of the right of privacy.

In order for a statement to fall into the category of a fair comment, it must not extend beyond matters of concern to the public. It must be a mere expression of the opinion of the commentator.


Freedom of the Press.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

fair comment

n. a statement of opinion (no matter how ludicrous) based on facts which are correctly stated, and which does not allege dishonorable motives on the part of the target of the comment. The U. S. Supreme Court has ruled that to protect free speech, statements made about a public person (politician, officeholder, movie star, author, etc.), even though untrue and harmful, are fair comment unless the victim can prove the opinions were stated maliciously---with hate, dislike, intent and/or desire to harm. Thus, a public figure may not sue for defamation based on published opinions or alleged information which would be the basis of a lawsuit if said or published about a private person not worthy of opinion or comment. Fair comment is a crucial defense against libel suits which is put up by members of the media. (See: defamation, libel, public figure, slander)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

fair comment

Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in classic literature ?
There was sufficient divergence of type, as well as of individual beauty, to allow of fair comment; Lady Arabella represented the aristocratic type, and Lilla that of the commonalty.
But Sheriff Nigel Ross ruled that although Dugdale's accusation wasn't correct, her Daily Record column contained "the necessary elements for a defence of fair comment".
That's a fair comment given results of tests on 2,100 thoroughbreds judged to be at risk are now in, with seven three at Donald McCain's yard and not counting the original three horses who sparked news of the outbreak and four trained by Simon Crisford confirmed as infected.
He went on to say if we are affected by any court's verdict then the constitution allows to express fair comment on it.
He says the words are malicious, false and reckless, outside the perimeters of justification, fair comment and responsible communication on matters of public interest.
In 2015, Parliament passed amendments to the Sedition Act, which makes it no longer an offence to make a fair comment on the administration of justice.
The ruling went against Lascaris and stated that Bnai Brith's tactics were considered "fair comment".
"This is an important matter that should be considered," he said, adding that it was 'only his comment' and could be considered 'a fair comment.'
This is an important matter that should be considered," he said, adding that it was only his comment' and could be considered a fair comment.
Responding to O'Driscoll's comments, Barclay said: "I think that is fair comment based on our record going into this game."
Nawaz Sharif should be tried under contempt of court law as statements do not fall within the expression of fair comment.
Tell delivery person about your disability BARBARA Dunn makes a fair comment of being unable to adapt to new technology having to sign on some weird contraption for items delivered to her home (Talkback, May 24).