Define: A Libello Ut Libellatur

A Libello Ut Libellatur
A Libello Ut Libellatur
Quick Summary of A Libello Ut Libellatur

The phrase “A libello ut libellatur” is a Latin term commonly employed in legal contexts, signifying “from the libel as laid.” It was frequently utilised to dismiss cases in favor of the defendant. In simpler terms, it indicates that the court’s ruling was based on the specific allegations presented in the initial complaint or libel.

What is the dictionary definition of A Libello Ut Libellatur?
Dictionary Definition of A Libello Ut Libellatur

A Libello Ut Libellatur is a Latin term used in law to describe a situation where the court dismisses a case in favour of the defendant because the evidence presented does not align with the initial claim made by the plaintiff, known as a libel. In Example 1, the judge dismissed the case after determining that the evidence did not match the libel as laid. In Example 2, the plaintiff’s lawyer argued that the libel as laid was inaccurate and needed to be amended. This signifies that the plaintiff failed to provide sufficient evidence to support their claim. In the second example, the plaintiff’s lawyer contended that the libel as laid was imprecise, indicating that the plaintiff did not provide a clear and accurate statement of their claim.

Full Definition Of A Libello Ut Libellatur

“A Libello Ut Libellatur” translates from Latin to “As it is alleged in the libel.” This principle is foundational in defamation law, particularly within jurisdictions that follow common law traditions, such as the United Kingdom. The concept underscores the importance of the specific allegations presented in a defamatory claim, focusing on the precision and clarity with which these allegations are articulated. This legal overview aims to unpack the intricacies of this principle, exploring its historical roots, application in modern defamation law, and implications for both claimants and defendants.

Historical Background

The origins of “A Libello Ut Libellatur” can be traced back to Roman law, which significantly influenced the development of common law principles. Roman legal texts emphasized the necessity for specific and clear allegations in legal complaints, ensuring that defendants were adequately informed of the charges against them. This requirement for specificity carried over into English common law, where the principle became particularly pertinent in cases of defamation.

In medieval England, defamation was primarily a matter of ecclesiastical courts, dealing with slanderous statements as moral offences. However, as the common law courts began to address defamation, the precision of allegations became increasingly crucial. The principle of “A Libello Ut Libellatur” thus evolved to ensure that defamatory statements were delineated in legal pleadings, providing a fair framework for adjudication.

Defamation Law in the United Kingdom

In contemporary UK law, defamation encompasses libel (written defamation) and slander (spoken defamation). The Defamation Act 2013 modernised defamation law, seeking to balance the protection of reputation with the freedom of expression. Under this Act, a statement is defamatory if it causes or is likely to cause serious harm to the claimant’s reputation. The threshold is higher for companies requiring proof of serious financial loss.

The Role of “A Libello Ut Libellatur” in Defamation Cases

The principle of “A Libello Ut Libellatur” remains pivotal in defamation cases. It mandates that the claimant’s pleadings precisely outline the alleged defamatory statements. This precision serves several critical functions:

  1. Clarity and Specificity: The claimant must articulate the exact words or statements alleged to be defamatory. This requirement ensures that the defendant is fully aware of the claims against them and can prepare an appropriate defence.
  2. Avoiding Ambiguity: Vague or general allegations are insufficient in defamation cases. The principle ensures that the defamatory nature of the statements is clear, avoiding unnecessary litigation over ambiguous claims.
  3. Fairness in Adjudication: This principle promotes fairness in the judicial process by requiring precise allegations. It prevents claimants from making broad, unspecific claims that could unjustly prejudice the defendant.

Pleading Requirements under UK Law

The principle of “A Libello Ut Libellatur” influences the procedural aspects of defamation cases in the UK. The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) govern the requirements for pleadings, emphasizing the need for clarity and specificity. Key elements include:

  1. Particulars of Claim: The claimant must provide a detailed account of the alleged defamatory statements in the particulars of the claim. This document outlines the facts supporting the claim, including the exact words used, the context in which they were made, and their defamatory meaning.
  2. Defence: In response, the defendant must submit a defence addressing each allegation made by the claimant. The defence can include arguments such as truth (justification), honest opinion, or privilege. The specificity of the claimant’s allegations enables the defendant to construct a targeted and effective defence.
  3. Evidence and Proof: The burden of proof lies with the claimant, who must demonstrate that the statements are defamatory, refer to them, and have been published to a third party. The principle of “A Libello Ut Libellatur” ensures that these elements are established in the pleadings.

Implications for Claimants and Defendants

The principle of “A Libello Ut Libellatur” has significant implications for both claimants and defendants in defamation cases:

  1. For Claimants: The requirement for precise allegations necessitates thorough preparation and meticulous drafting of pleadings. Claimants must ensure that their allegations are specific, accurate, and adequately supported by evidence. Failure to meet these standards can result in the dismissal of the claim.
  2. For Defendants: The principle provides defendants with a clear understanding of the case against them, enabling them to prepare a focused defence. It also offers a basis for challenging vague or insufficiently detailed claims, potentially leading to their dismissal at an early stage.

Case Law Illustrations

Several landmark cases illustrate the application of “A Libello Ut Libellatur” in UK defamation law:

  1. Thornton v. Telegraph Media Group Ltd. [2010]: This case emphasised the importance of the threshold of seriousness in defamation claims, reinforcing the need for clear and specific allegations. The court held that trivial claims would not meet the required standard, highlighting the principle’s role in filtering out unmeritorious claims.
  2. Lachaux v. Independent Print Ltd. [2019]: This Supreme Court decision clarified the test for serious harm under the Defamation Act of 2013. The case underscored the necessity for claimants to provide detailed and precise allegations to demonstrate serious harm, aligning with the principle of “A Libello Ut Libellatur.”.

Challenges and Criticisms

While the principle of “A Libello Ut Libellatur” promotes fairness and clarity, it also presents challenges:

  1. Complexity and Cost: The requirement for detailed and precise pleadings can increase the complexity and cost of defamation litigation. Claimants must invest significant time and resources into drafting their claims, which can be burdensome, particularly for individuals with limited resources.
  2. Potential for Abuse: Defendants might exploit the principle by challenging the sufficiency of the claimant’s pleadings, leading to protracted procedural disputes. This tactic can delay the resolution of the case and increase litigation costs.

Reforms and Future Directions

The Defamation Act 2013 introduced several reforms aimed at streamlining defamation litigation and addressing some of the challenges associated with “A Libello Ut Libellatur.”. Key reforms include:

  1. Serious Harm Requirement: The Act established a threshold for serious harm, ensuring that only substantial claims proceed to trial. This reform aligns with the principle by reinforcing the need for clear and significant allegations.
  2. Summary Disposal: The Act provides mechanisms for the early disposal of meritless claims, allowing courts to strike out vague or insubstantial allegations. This provision helps to prevent the abuse of procedural challenges and promotes the efficient resolution of defamation cases.


The principle of “A Libello Ut Libellatur” remains a cornerstone of defamation law in the United Kingdom. It ensures that allegations are clearly and precisely articulated, promoting fairness and clarity in legal proceedings. While the principle presents certain challenges, recent reforms under the Defamation Act 2013 have sought to address these issues, reinforcing the importance of specificity in defamation claims. As defamation law continues to evolve, the principle of “A Libello Ut Libellatur” will undoubtedly remain integral to defamatory disputes’ fair and just resolution.

The balance between protecting reputations and upholding freedom of expression is delicate, and the principle of “A Libello Ut Libellatur” plays a critical role in maintaining this balance. By ensuring that defamatory allegations are delineated and substantiated, the principle upholds the integrity of the legal process and safeguards the rights of both claimants and defendants.

In summary, “A Libello Ut Libellatur” embodies the essence of precise and clear legal pleading, a fundamental aspect of defamation law that ensures fair adjudication and the proper administration of justice. As the legal landscape continues to adapt to new challenges, this principle will remain a vital component of defamation jurisprudence, guiding the formulation and adjudication of defamatory claims in the UK and beyond.

A Libello Ut Libellatur FAQ'S

A Libello Ut Libellatur is a Latin legal term that translates to “as the complaint is filed, so it is pleaded.” It refers to a legal principle where the plaintiff’s complaint must accurately state the claims and relief sought.

Adhering to the principle of Libello Ut Libellatur is important because it ensures that the defendant is properly informed about the claims against them. It promotes fairness and allows the defendant to prepare an appropriate defence.

If the plaintiff fails to comply with the principle of Libello Ut Libellatur, the defendant may file a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. The court may dismiss the case or give the plaintiff an opportunity to amend the complaint.

Yes, the plaintiff can generally amend the complaint to comply with Libello Ut Libellatur after it has been filed. However, there may be certain limitations or deadlines imposed by the court, so it is important to consult with an attorney.

Yes, Libello Ut Libellatur applies to all types of legal cases, including civil, criminal, and administrative cases. It is a fundamental principle of pleading in most legal systems.

In a criminal case, not adhering to Libello Ut Libellatur may result in the charges being dismissed or the defendant being acquitted. The prosecution must clearly state the charges and provide sufficient details to inform the defendant of the allegations against them.

Yes, the defendant can challenge the sufficiency of the complaint based on Libello Ut Libellatur by filing a motion to dismiss. The defendant can argue that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

There may be certain exceptions to the principle of Libello Ut Libellatur, such as cases involving fraud or intentional misrepresentation. In such cases, the plaintiff may not be required to disclose all the details in the initial complaint.

Libello Ut Libellatur is closely related to the principle of notice pleading, which requires the complaint to provide enough information to put the defendant on notice of the claims against them. Both principles aim to ensure fairness and due process in legal proceedings.

Yes, the court can dismiss a case based solely on a violation of Libello Ut Libellatur if the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. However, the court may also give the plaintiff an opportunity to amend the complaint to rectify the deficiency.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 11th June 2024.

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