CountryType of Law 

Criminal Defamation

Defamation remains a criminal offence in Barbados (punishable with imprisonment).

Libel can be prosecuted as a criminal offence under Art. 34 of the Defamation Act (1997). The punishment is imprisonment for up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,000.


Criminal Defamation of Public Officials

No provisions.


Criminal Defamation of the Head of State

No provisions.


Criminal Defamation of the State and its Symbols

No provisions.


Criminal Defamation of Foreign States and Symbols

No provisions.


Criminal Defamation of the Deceased

No provisions.


Criminal Blasphemy

No provisions.


Criminal Procedure

Statistics on Application


Civil Defamation

The applicable law is the Defamation Act (1997). “Defamation” is not defined in statute.


There are no caps on compensation for non-pecuniary damage. The Defamation Act does not require that damages to be proportionate to the harm caused. However, it states that judges may instruct juries to consider the level of damages awarded in personal injury cases. Judges may instruct juries as to whether the level of damages awarded should be substantial, moderate, nominal or contemptuous.


Truth: The Defamation Act provides a statutory defence of truth, however the burden of proof falls on the defendant (Art. 7).

Opinion/fair comment: The Act provides a defence of comment on matters of public interest (Art. 8)

Privilege: The Act provides a statutory defence of absolute and qualified privilege. Qualified privilege is defeated if the defendant acted with malice. It is further stated that qualified privilege does not protect blasphemous or obscene matter or matter “which is not of public concern”.

Further defences provided in the Act or those of triviality, translation and innocent dissemination.

Media Cases and Case Law

Recent Legal Changes


The information contained in this database is for informational and advocacy purposes only. If you are a journalist facing a defamation claim, you should seek legal advice from a qualified attorney. However, if you are unable to find such an attorney, IPI may be able to assist you in doing so. Please contact us at ipi[at]

Information on Barbados was last updated in September 2015.

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