Legal Updates

Offensive publication of contentions that are heard in a legal proceeding may be considered an expression of opinion in good faith

December 1, 2023

A person published that a college took public land and did not duly pay taxes, based on legal proceedings on the subject which were not yet concluded at the time.

The Court did not accept the claim of defamation and determined that the publication concerning the college was permissible under the good faith defense. Israeli law sets that if a publication is made in good faith, mainly because it is only an expression of opinion about behavior that is in the public interest, the publisher will be protected against a defamation lawsuit. Here, even though unequivocal and strong expressions were used in the publication to describe the actions of the college ("taken over", "robbed", "stolen", "taken by force"), it was clear that this is not a statement of established and definitive facts, but a way to relay accusations placed before the Court with which the administrative petitions were filed (one of which petitions was even accepted). Therefore, the publisher believed in the truth of the publication, believed there is public interest for it and had grounds to believe so based on the ruling of the Court which stated that the dispute merits a deeper review. Thus, as the publication constitutes an expression of opinion and was done in good faith, the claim was dismissed.