Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



During the nineteenth century it became settled common law in England and in the United States that in any action for libel, as distinct from slander, the plaintiff could recover damages without pleading or proving that he had in fact suffered any damages as a result of the publication. The American Law Institute accepted this as sound law. Volume III of the Restatement of Torts, published in 1938, stated the rule in section 569: "One who falsely, and without a privilege to do so, publishes matter defamatory to another in such a manner as to make the publication a libel is liable to the other although no special harm or loss of reputation results therefrom." In 1941, in the first edition of his excellent treatise on the law of torts, Dean Prosser stated: "This is the accepted rule in England, and in the great majority of the American jurisdictions, not only as to publications which are defamatory upon their face, but also as to those which require resort to extrinsic facts by way of 'inducement' to establish the defamatory meaning."