Qualified Privilege Law and Legal Definition

Qualified privilege is a type of defense taken in defamation actions. An otherwise defamatory statement gets qualified privilege protection when the communication/statement is :

1) made in good faith; and
2) on a subject matter in which the person making it has an interest, or in reference to which he/she has a duty; and
3) made to a person or persons having a corresponding interest or duty, even though it contains matter which, without this privilege, would be slanderous; and
4) made without malice.

The defense of qualified privilege permits free communication in certain relationships without the risk of an action for defamation. The person communicating the statement usually has a legal, moral or social duty to make it and the recipient will have a corresponding interest in receiving it. The relationship should not be abused for the purpose of relaying untrue reports and must not be motivated by malice. The person making the statement/publisher will have to satisfy the Court that he/she has taken proper steps to verify the accuracy of the statement and believed it to be true. An employer preparing/providing a character reference for a former employee, answering police inquiries, communications between teachers and parents, local councilors, officers of companies, employers and employees, or traders and credit agencies, public discussion of government and political matters are all relationships that are protected by qualified privilege. However, this is not an absolute privilege.