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Slander of Title

action, land, words, plaintiffs, poll and libel

SLANDER OF TITLE. A statement tend ing to cut down the extent of one's title.

"An action on the case for special damage sustained by reason of the speaking or publi cation of the slander of the plaintiff's title." 3 Bing. x. c. 371.

Malice, that is, absence of good faith, is an essential condition, of liability ; 19 Ch. Div. 386; or actual malice, as well as special dam age ; Poll. Torts 294.

The action formerly applied only to real property.; but now extends to chattels and to property rights, such as those under pat ents. See LIBEL.

An assertion of title made by way of self defence or as a warning to others, is not ac tionable, though the claim be mistaken, if made in good faith ; Poll. Torts 295; L.' R.

4 Q. B. 730. To say to a prospective purchas er of land, "I know one that hath two leases of his land who will not part with them at any reasonable rate," is a slander of plain tiff's title ; Cro. Eliz. 427.

An action for slander of title is not prop= erly an action for words spoken, but an ac tion on the case for special damage sustain ed by reason of the speaking or publication of the slander of the plaintiff's title. The property may be either real or personal, and the plaintiff's interest therein may be *any thing that has a market value. It makes no difference whether the defendant's words be spoken, written, or printed, save as affecting the damages, which should be larger when the publication is more permanent or exten sive, as by advertisement. The action is ranged under that division of actions in the digests and other writers on the text law, and is so held by the courts of the present day. The slander may be of such a nature as to fall within the scope of ordinary slander. It is essential, to give a cause of action, that the statement should be false. It is essen tial, also, that it should be malicious,—not malicious in the worst sense, but with intent to injure the plaintiff. If the statement be true, if there really be the infirmity in the title that is suggested, no action will lie however malicious the defendant's intention might be ; Heard, Libel & S. §§ 10, 59 ; Poll.

Torts 389. See Burkett v. Griffith, 90 Cal. 532, 27 Pac. 527, 13 L. R. A. 707, 25 Am. St. Rep. 151.

Where a person claims a right in himself which he intends to enforce against a pur chaser, he is entitled, and in common fair ness bound, to give the intended purchaser warning of his intention ; and no action will lie for giving such preliminary warning, un less it can be shown either that the threat was made male• fide, only with intent to in jure the vendor, and without any purpose to follow it up by an action against the pur• chaser, or that the circumstances were such as to make the bringing an action altogether wrongful; L. R. 4 Q. B. 730 ; Odger, Libel & S. 138. The denial of a complaining par ty's title made bona fide in assertion of the title (real or honestly believed to exist) of the party making such denial, will not sus tain an action for slander of title; Harriss v. Sneeden, 101 N. C. 273, 7 S. E. 801.

It is sufficient to allege and prove the own ership of land and the false claim of title by defendant which prevented the sale of the land ; Dodge v. Colby, 108 N. Y. 445, 15 N. E. 703; Collins v. Whitehead, 34 Fed. 121, where it was held that on the evidence of merely filing a deed for record which pre vented the sale of the land, substantial dam ages might be recovered; but in another case it was held that not only must the declara tion allege that the words complained of were falsely and maliciously uttered, but there must also be an expressed allegation of spe cial damage resulting therefrom as the nat ural and direct consequence of the words complained of ; 20 U. C. C. P. 471.