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Suppose someone makes a false accusation against me. As a result of this false accusation, nobody's going to pay me to perform work for them anymore.

If I can prove the amount of money I'd be making right now were it not for this false accusation, and that I lost the opportunity to make that money due to the accusation, does the libelous party now owe me that amount?

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  • Such values are very hard to proove...
    – Trish
    Apr 25, 2022 at 9:44

2 Answers 2

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Yes

Loss of income that is directly attributable to a loss of reputation can be part of the damages in a libel case. However, the plaintiff must prove the connection, must show that had the libel and the resulting loss of reputation not occurred, the income would have been received. This can be hard to establish. Testimony from specific people who say that they would have hired the plaintiff or done business with the plaintiff but for the libel is a common way to establish this kind of damage. Showing a sudden drop of income after the libel can also help such a case.

And of course, the plaintiff must establish the other elements of libel: (in the US) a negative factual statement, communicated to others, the falsity of the statement, and a resulting loss of reputation.

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    Also good for showing: A contract negotiation that broke down after the libel or a contract that was ended because of it.
    – Trish
    Apr 25, 2022 at 9:45
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Yes

In many defamation cases it can form the bulk of the damages. The onus is on the plaintiff to prove the causal link between the defamatory statement and the loss of future income.

For example, in Wilson v Bauer Media, $3.9 million of the more than $4.5 million awarded by the trial judge was for loss of future economic earnings. However, on appeal, the court ruled "there was no basis in the evidence for making any award of damages for economic loss". The Court of Appeal said that in awarding compensation for economic losses, Justice Dixon "relied also upon his assessment of the trajectory of Ms Wilson's career". "For a considerable number of reasons, the critical inferences drawn by the judge could not be upheld," the judgment said. "It followed that the judge's award of damages for economic loss had to be set aside."

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