The Locus of Defamation Law Since the Constitution of Oxford
Defamation law has a long history — being established, as a result of the Fourth Lateran Council, in the first half of the 13th century. Unsurprisingly, given its age, the nature of what was being protected by defamation law has not been consistent over that time. This research maps the focus of the action across the medieval period, the 17th century, and the 19th century. That, at different stages, there have been emphases on ‘false facts’, ‘honour’, ‘character’, ‘name’ and ‘reputation’ shows that the law has not been stable. The argument is not that the law should be stable, but that any assumptions around the centrality of reputation over the course of the development of defamation law are ill-founded.