What is Absolute Privilege?
What is absolute privilege? This is a legal concept that protects certain types of communications, such as those made by witnesses and clients to solicitors. The plaintiff must prove "actual malice" to obtain this privilege. In other words, the defendant must have made an intentionally false statement knowing that it was untrue. Otherwise, it would not be protected under the privilege. It is important to understand the scope of absolute privilege before filing a claim.
While this definition seems narrow, courts have broadened the protections under absolute privilege. In most cases, a person is protected from being sued for statements made in an official proceeding, including judicial proceedings. In other words, an individual cannot be sued if he makes an obscene or defamatory statement in a public setting. In many instances, this protection extends to broadcasts, television stations, newspapers, and internet forums.
Qualified privilege protects words said in parliamentary and judicial proceedings. It also protects documents published or cited in law. A newspaper's report of a court proceeding, or of a judicial proceedings, is considered privileged. Even a newspaper's report published a few days before the judicial proceedings takes place, would qualify as privileged. It would be a news story if the publication were contemporaneous.
The judicial privilege protects statements made by participants in judicial proceedings against another individual. However, these statements must have a direct and material relevance to the proceedings. The judicial proceeding starts when a complaint is filed and the proceedings can include anything from pre-trial events to the appeal process. Without relevant context, defamatory statements are not protected. It is important to note that these privileges are limited and often overlap. You should never use defamatory statements for legal purposes without the consent of the other party.
There are two main exceptions to the privileged communication rule. The first exception pertains to communications between a married couple. A court cannot compel a married couple to disclose communications they have had while married. Another exception to this rule is the business record exception. Records made by a business with knowledge and in the course of a regularly conducted business are generally privileged. This means that your communications with your spouse, doctor, or priest are privileged.
While the judicial system has established an absolute privilege defense, it does not apply to every case. For example, if Sam says something defamatory, the prosecuting attorney is immune from defamation lawsuits. Similarly, the prosecuting attorney cannot sue Sam for defamation in any situation in which he or she was acquitted. Therefore, if you want to make use of privileged information during a lawsuit, you should consult a lawyer and explain the circumstances surrounding it.