Is it possible to sue for defamation?

Is it possible to sue for defamation?

Defamation, understood as the issuing false statements that damage a person's reputationhas become a growing concern, especially on social media. This raises the question of whether it is possible to report those who defame. In this article, we will explore the Spanish legal framework that regulates it, detail how to file a complaint and analyse best practices to prevent defamation.

The legal framework for defamation

Difference between libel and slander

The insult involves publicly insulting for example on social media, seeking to humiliate and damage dignity. The slanderon the other hand, consists of publicly accusing someone of a crimeknowing that the information is false. The distinction is crucial, since the reform of the Penal Code of 2015 decriminalised minor offences.


  • Article 205

Libel involves imputing an offence with knowledge of its falsity or reckless disregard for the truth.

  • Article 206

Libel can be punishable by imprisonment or fines, depending on whether it is publicised.

  • Article 207

A person accused of slander is exempted from punishment if he proves the truthfulness of the accusation.


  • Article 208

Insults are actions that injure the dignity of another person and constitute a criminal offence when they are considered serious.

  • Article 209

Serious libel with publicity is punishable by a fine, and the accused may exonerate himself by proving the truth of the allegations.

  • Article 210

Exemption from liability for libel against public officials on facts concerning their positions.

What Constitutes Defamation on Social Media?

In Spain, defamation in social media involves speaking ill of someone publicly, whether on the internet or digital platforms. Although it is common for public figures or influencers, any individual can be a victim of defamation. The associated offences are libel and slander, which are considered to be attacks on dignity and personality rights.

Limits to Freedom of Expression on the Internet

Freedom of expression on the internet is protected, but there are limits. Criticism and opinion are protected, but insults and offensive comments are considered libel. Slander goes further, as it seeks to intentionally damage reputation. Case law establishes criteria for identifying when the limits of freedom of expression are exceeded.

How to report defamation

If you are a victim of misrepresentation, the reporting process begins identifying the defamatory statement and gathering evidence of its falsity and the harm caused. The distinction between subjective criticism and objectively false claims is crucial for the complaint.

The offences of libel and slander are denounced by means of a criminal complaintl, filed with the Juzgado de Instrucción or the State security forces and bodies. Before lodging the complaint, it is required that a attempt at conciliation between the partiesdocumented in order to be admissible. The steps to report defamation include gathering evidence, contacting the author of the comment, informing the social network and, ultimately, filing the complaint in court.

Denouncing someone for badmouthing

Under sections 205 and 208 of the Penal Code, libel and slander can be reported, but requires evidence of misrepresentation and damage. The law provides for specific penalties and exemptions under certain circumstances.

Process and effects of the complaint

The libel complaint deals with serious situations, punishing the imputation of crimes with knowledge of falsehood. The complaint of slander refers to actions that injure dignity and can be punished with a fine. Both require careful assessment of evidence and circumstances.

Preventing defamation: Best practices and recommendations

Preventing defamation is essential, both personally and professionally. The education on the impact of words, the verification of information before sharing and maintaining a constructive tone in online discussions are key practices. For businesses, establishing clear communication policies and training employees on these issues is crucial.


In conclusion, defamation is a complex issue that affects reputation and emotional well-being. While it is possible to sue for defamation in Spain, prevention through awareness-raising and respectful communication is essential. The highly digitalised world in which we find ourselves demands caution in our interactions on the Internet, reminding us that freedom of expression has its limits and that defamation can have legal consequences.

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