2021 Georgia Code
Title 51 - Torts
Chapter 5 - Libel and Slander
§ 51-5-1. Libel Defined; Publication Prerequisite to Recovery

Universal Citation: GA Code § 51-5-1 (2021)
  1. A libel is a false and malicious defamation of another, expressed in print, writing, pictures, or signs, tending to injure the reputation of the person and exposing him to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule.
  2. The publication of the libelous matter is essential to recovery.

(Orig. Code 1863, § 2916; Code 1868, § 2923; Code 1873, § 2974; Code 1882, § 2974; Civil Code 1895, § 3832; Civil Code 1910, § 4428; Code 1933, § 105-701.)

Law reviews.

- For article advocating recognition of an action for testamentary libel, see 27 Mercer L. Rev. 1147 (1976). For article, "Defamation in Georgia Local Government Law: A Brief History," see 16 Ga. L. Rev. 627 (1982). For annual survey of law of torts, see 38 Mercer L. Rev. 351 (1986). For article, "Defamation and Invasion of Privacy," see 27 Ga. St. B. J. 18 (1990). For note, "The Great Escape: How One Plaintiff's Sidestep of a Mandatory Arbitration Clause Was Applied to a Class in Bickerstaff v. SunTrust Bank," see 68 Mercer L. Rev. 539 (2017). For comment on Braden v. Baugham, 74 Ga. App. 802, 41 S.E.2d 581 (1947), see 9 Ga. B. J. 456 (1947). For comment criticizing Gouldman-Taber Pontiac, Inc. v. Zerbst, 213 Ga. 682, 100 S.E.2d 881 (1957) wherein plaintiff was held to have only a qualified right of privacy when defendant disclosed plaintiff's debts to third-party employer, see 9 Mercer L. Rev. 227 (1957). For comment on Gouldman-Taber Pontiac, Inc. v. Zerbst, 96 Ga. App. 48, 99 S.E.2d 475 (1957), holding that defendant's act of writing petitioner's employer to assist in collecting an alleged debt which was disputed by petitioner was an invasion of her right to privacy, see 20 Ga. B. J. 256 (1957). For comment on Arvey Corp. v. Peterson, 178 F. Supp. 132 (E.D. Pa. 1959), finding dictation of material to stenographer - sufficient publication to support an action for libel, see 11 Mercer L. Rev. 381 (1960). For comment on American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres, Inc. v. Simpson, 106 Ga. App. 230, 126 S.E.2d 873 (1962), see 25 Ga. B. J. 310 (1963). For comment on Rives v. Atlanta Newspapers, Inc., 110 Ga. App. 184, 138 S.E.2d 100 (1964), see 1 Ga. St. B. J. 236. For comment on Hinkle v. Alexander, 244 Ore. 267, 417 P.2d 586 (1966), suggesting adoption by Georgia of a uniform rule on proof of damages in libel actions, see 18 Mercer L. Rev. 297 (1966). For comment criticizing Cabaniss v. Hipsley, 114 Ga. App. 367, 151 S.E.2d 496 (1966), see 18 Mercer L. Rev. 519 (1967). For comment, "Room for Error Online: Revising Georgia's Retraction Statute to Accommodate the Rise of Internet Media," see 28 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 923 (2012).



  • General Consideration
  • Slander Distinguished
  • Publication
  • Public Officials
  • Pleading and Practice
  • Jury Questions
  • Applicability to Specific Cases


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 50 Am. Jur. 2d, Libel and Slander, §§ 1 et seq., 223 et seq.

16B Am. Jur. Pleading and Practice Forms, Libel and Slander, § 1.


- 53 C.J.S., Libel and Slander, §§ 1 et seq., 87 et seq.


- Placarding debtor as libel, 3 A.L.R. 1596.

Libel by recall petition, 43 A.L.R. 1268.

Bank's return of a check or bill to holder without presentation to the drawee as libel upon drawer, 53 A.L.R. 800.

Imputing to lawyer solicitation of business or fomenting of litigation as libelous, 112 A.L.R. 177.

Injunction as remedy in case of trade libel, 148 A.L.R. 853.

Liability of partners or partnership for libel, 88 A.L.R.2d 474.

Libel: imputing credit unworthiness to nontrader, 99 A.L.R.2d 700.

Libel by will, 21 A.L.R.3d 754.

Relevancy of matter contained in pleading as affecting privilege within law of libel, 38 A.L.R.3d 272.

Postadoption visitation by natural parent, 46 A.L.R.4th 326.

Libel or slander: defamation by gestures or acts, 46 A.L.R.4th 403.

Defamation: publication by intracorporate communication of employee's evaluation, 47 A.L.R.4th 674.

Publication of allegedly defamatory matter by plaintiff ("self-publication") as sufficient to support defamation action, 62 A.L.R.4th 616.

In personam jurisdiction, in libel and slander action, over nonresident who mailed allegedly defamatory letter from outside state, 83 A.L.R.4th 1006.

Who is "public official" for purposes of defamation action, 44 A.L.R.5th 193.

Reportorial privilege as to nonconfidential news information, 60 A.L.R.5th 75.

Liability for statement or publication charging plaintiff with killing of, cruelty to, or inhumane treatment of animals, 69 A.L.R.5th 645.

Libel and slander: statements regarding labor relations or disputes, 94 A.L.R.5th 149.

Defamation of manufacturer, regarding product, other than through statement charging breach or nonperformance of contract, 104 A.L.R.5th 523.

Defamation of building contractor or subcontractor other than through statement charging breach or nonperformance of contract, 106 A.L.R.5th 475.

Defamation of member of clergy, 108 A.L.R.5th 495.

Defamation of church member by church or church official, 109 A.L.R.5th 541.

Criticism or disparagement of physician's character, competence, or conduct as defamation, 16 A.L.R.6th 1.

Defamation of psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor, 67 A.L.R.6th 437.

Defamation of psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor, 67 A.L.R.6th 437.

Statement Regarding Victim or Accuser of Rape or Other Sexual Misconduct as Defamation, 49 A.L.R.7th Art. 8.

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