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MAKE YOUR FREE Cease and desist letter for defamation

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How to make a Cease and desist letter for defamation

A cease and desist letter for defamation formally requests someone (the recipient of the letter) to remove and cease the publication of content you believe to be defamatory.

Stop an individual or a business from making allegedly defamatory statements about you or your business by sending this cease and desist letter for defamation. Receiving a professional, succinct cease and desist is often enough to stop an offending party. If not, you will have proof that you tried before resorting to the legal system. 

For use in England and Wales only.

Use this cease and desist for defamation letter: 

  • if you are an individual or business located in England or Wales

  • when an individual or business has made false and allegedly defamatory statements about you (or your business) on their website, in an article or internet posts

  • when you have suffered or are likely to suffer serious harm because of these statements 

  • to inform the recipient to stop posting such statements

This cease and desist for defamation letter covers: 

  • how the allegedly defamatory statement was published (either in an article, in internet posts or on the recipient’s website)

  • why the statement is allegedly defamatory

  • how the allegedly defamatory statement caused (or is likely to cause) serious harm to you

  • order to cease posting the statements

  • threat of further legal actions

A carefully written cease and desist letter for defamation is a very powerful tool when false and allegedly defamatory statements have been made about you or your business. You will need a cease and desist letter for defamation when you want the recipient of the letter to stop making and publishing such statements, before resorting to legal action. It is an efficient warning that offers the recipient of the letter the option to solve the problem out of court.

Defamation occurs when something is written (or said) about someone (ie the sender of the letter) which is untrue and has one or more of the following effects:

  • lowers them in the estimation of 'right-thinking' members of society generally

  • disparages them in their business, trade, office or profession,

  • exposes them to hatred, ridicule or contempt, or

  • causes them to be shunned or avoided

The defamatory statements must also cause (or be likely to cause) serious harm to the party the statement was made about.

For more information, read Defamation.

Whether serious harm has been caused or is likely to be caused will depend on the specific circumstances of the situation, and is determined by the actual impact of the allegedly defamatory statement. 

In determining whether serious harm has been caused (or is likely to be caused), consider:

  • the severity of the statement(s) and allegation(s)

  • the size of the readership

  • any specifics of your situation suggesting serious harm or the likelihood of such harm (eg a loss in clients)

Serious harm (or the likelihood of such harm) to the reputation of a business, requires the statement to cause (or be likely to cause) serious financial loss. Proving serious financial loss (or the likelihood of such loss) is highly fact-dependent but may be evidenced by anything from loss of clients to online reviews and social media posts. 

In certain extreme circumstances, serious reputational harm and/or financial loss may be so obvious that actual evidence is not required, for example, publication in national media of allegations of terrorism.

For more information, read Defamation.

Dealing with reviews can be challenging especially if they are not positive. Generally, a review that is both truthful and an honest opinion is permissible and unlikely to be actionable. In some cases, a response addressing the issues can be seen as an opportunity to show good customer service. 

However, where such reviews are not rooted in fact, you may be able to take action against them. Provided previous attempts to remove such a written review has failed, you may consider using this cease and desist for defamation if the review is untrue and:

  • lowers you in the estimation of 'right-thinking' members of society generally

  • disparages you in your business, trade, office or profession

  • exposes you to hatred, ridicule or contempt, or

  • causes you to be shunned or avoided

The recipient must stop any allegedly defamatory behaviour and must undertake a variety of actions, including:

  • removing the content to prevent harm to the business

  • undertaking not to publish the content again

  • producing and publishing an apology and a declaration that the content was defamatory

Providing the recipient with a deadline for ceasing the allegedly defamatory action gives more weight to your letter and compels the recipient to react quickly. The deadline should remain reasonable, for example allowing the recipient 7 or 14 days to respond.

A sample of the content you believe to be defamatory should be included in Schedule 1. 

Where the letter relates to an article, a copy of the article should be included in Schedule 1.

Where the letter relates to internet posts or statements published on the recipient’s website, samples of the allegedly defamatory content should be included in Schedule 1. Such samples may take the form of screenshots of the internet posts or information taken from the recipient’s website.

Note that any evidence provided in Schedule 1 should be clear enough to read and be relevant.

Ask a lawyer if:

  • the recipient does not respond to this letter

  • the allegedly defamatory statements were not published in an article, on the recipient’s website or in internet posts

  • you are based in Scotland

This cease and desist letter for defamation is governed by the laws of England and Wales.

Other names for Cease and desist letter for defamation

Cease and desist notice for defamation, Cease and desist letter for libel.

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