Report No. 33
41. Present legal position.-
As to the present legal position, the following observations of Creswell J.1 may be referred to in this context.
"It may be said that it is very hard on a defendant to be subject to heavy damages (for libel) where he has acted honestly, and where nothing more can be imputed to him than an error in judgment. It may be hard: but it is very hard, on the other hand, to be falsely accused. It is to be borne in mind that people are but too apt rashly to think ill of others; the propensity of tale-bearing and slander is so strong amongst mankind, and, when suspicions are infused, men are so apt to entertain them without due examination, in cases where their interests are concerned, that it is necessary to hold the rule strictly as to any officious intermeddling by which the character of others is affected.".
And, as was observed by Tindal C.J. in the same case2 if the defendant took a course which was not justifiable in point of law although it proceeded from an error in judgment only, (and not an error of intention) , still it is undoubtedly he, and not the plaintiff, who must suffer for such error.
1. Coxhead v. Richards, (1846) 2 CP 569 (601): 135 ER 1069 (1082).
2. Coxhead v. Richards, (1846) 2 CP 569 (596): 135 ER 1069 (1080).