On the grounds of public policy and in order to preserve and protect the cherished right of freedom of speech, certain statements which may be defamatory are protected by law. The public interest in free speech is allowed to override the private right of interest of a person whose reputation has been injured.
The meaning of the word privilege is that a person stands in such a relation to the fact of the case that he is justified in saying or writing what would otherwise be slanderous or libelous.
Privilege may be absolute and qualified. In case of absolute privilege, every communication irrespective of its being false or malicious is protected. In the case of qualified privilege, a person is entitled to communicate a defamatory representation.
Occasions of absolute privilege include;
- Statement made in parliament by a member
- Statements in parliamentary papers published by the order of parliament.
- Statements made in court in the course of judicial proceedings.
- Statements by an offices of state in the course of official duty even if related to commercial matters.
- Statements made in professional communications between advocate or client.
- Communication between husband and wife.