SR English law allows actions for libel to be brought in the High Court for any published statements which are alleged to defame a named or identifiable individual (or individuals; note that under English law companies are legal persons, and may bring suit for defamation) in a manner which causes them loss in their trade or profession, or causes a reasonable person to think worse of him, her or them.
Allowable defences are justification (i.e. the truth of the statement),
fair comment (i.e. whether the statement was a view that a reasonable person could have held),
and privilege (i.e. whether the statements were made in Parliament or in court, or whether they were fair reports of allegations in the public interest).
An offer of amends is a barrier to litigation. A defamatory statement is presumed to be false, unless the defendant can prove its truth. Furthermore, to collect compensatory damages, a public official or public figure must prove actual malice (knowing falsity or reckless disregard for the truth). A private individual must only prove negligence (not exercising due care) to collect compensatory damages. In order to collect punitive damages, all individuals must prove actual malice.
Thanks to Wikipedia for the above - a neat summary
The onus is on you to prove your statement is true - if you cannot then you are liable for damages if sued. It is not enough to say that "you have heard it on the grapevine"
Lance Armstrong used that very process to keep the lid on his drug taking activities - many "knew" he did it but none could "prove" it - he successfully sued the Sunday Times for libel when they named him as a drug cheat - though the wheel has now turned full circle and they are now after him for return of damages and costs
PC it's because of all the PB's I've been setting - we don't seem to have an innocent smilie
Also-ran well it could run and run..................... Not sure how it ended up there - it wasn't the heading I selected!!
On a slightly more serious note it could l just lead to folk remembering that they are responsible for what they say on Facetwit and other forums and once it's out there there is no means of taking it back. I'll bet lawyers are rubbing their hands at this ruling - I can see the new TV adverts now - "Ever been libelled on Facebook or Twitter - call Libel Lawyers for U"
Hurridly scans post to make sure it contains no falsehoods attached to an individual .......................
"Today's ruling should be seen as a warning to all social media users. Things can be held to be seriously defamatory, even when you do not intend them to be defamatory and do not make any express accusation. On this, I have learned my own lesson the hard way" - she said afterwards.