n South African Law Journal - The revival of the amende honorable as applied to defamation by the media

Volume 128, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-2503
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2177



Although there is merit in considering the amende honorable as an alternative remedy to damages in a defamation action, it is questionable whether the amende honorable is an appropriate remedy against media defendants. Defamation law as applied to defamation by the media does not only involve the parties engaged in litigation but also the public, which relies on the media to receive information. As explained in the minority judgments of 2006 (6) SA 235 (CC), the purpose of the amende honorable is to achieve interpersonal repair between the defendant and the plaintiff in defamation cases and also to reintegrate the parties into broader social relations. The extended values of vindication of reputation cannot, however, be achieved by the amende honorable in the context of defamation by the media. The nature of the relationship between a media defendant and a plaintiff does not necessitate interpersonal repair, as the interests of justice will not be served by attempting to restore a personal relationship that does not exist. The amende honorable also falls short in achieving social harmony. The extent of mass publication by a media defendant falls beyond the reparative scope of the amende honorable. Through the mass publication of defamatory allegations, the media has an increased capacity to cause harm to the reputation of the plaintiff that cannot properly be vindicated by an apology.

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