2021 Georgia Code
Title 51 - Torts
Chapter 5 - Libel and Slander
§ 51-5-5. Inference of Malice; Rebuttal Thereof; Effect of Rebuttal

Universal Citation: GA Code § 51-5-5 (2021)

In all actions for printed or spoken defamation, malice is inferred from the character of the charge. However, the existence of malice may be rebutted by proof. In all cases, such proof shall be considered in mitigation of damages. In cases of privileged communications, such proof shall bar a recovery.

(Orig. Code 1863, § 2917; Code 1868, § 2924; Code 1873, § 2975; Code 1882, § 2975; Civil Code 1895, § 3833; Civil Code 1910, § 4429; Code 1933, § 105-706.)

Law reviews.

- For article, "Defamation in Georgia Local Government Law: A Brief History," see 16 Ga. L. Rev. 627 (1982). For comment discussing admissibility of evidence of malice not previously pleaded, in light of Van Gundy v. Wilson, 84 Ga. App. 429, 66 S.E.2d 93 (1951), see 14 Ga. B. J. 358 (1952).



  • General Consideration
  • Cases Involving Public Figures


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 50 Am. Jur. 2d, Libel and Slander, §§ 4, 5, 9, 25, 27, 33 et seq.


- 53 C.J.S., Libel and Slander, §§ 7, 83 et seq.


- What constitutes variance between pleading and proof of defamatory words, 2 A.L.R. 367.

May actual malice which will defeat conditional privilege in libel or slander coexist with belief in truth of imputation, 18 A.L.R. 1160.

Presumption and burden of proof regarding mitigation of damages, 134 A.L.R. 242.

Sufficiency of plaintiff's allegations in defamation action as to defendant's malice, 76 A.L.R.2d 696.

Libel and slander: what constitutes actual malice, within federal constitutional rule requiring public officials and public figures to show actual malice, 20 A.L.R.3d 988.

Sufficiency of showing of malice or lack of reasonable care to support credit agency's liability for circulating inaccurate credit report, 40 A.L.R.3d 1049.

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

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

Defamation by television - actual malice, 42 A.L.R.6th 353.

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