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Does Conor McGregor have legal grounds to sue Jake Paul for slander?

Can Conor McGregor sue Jake Paul?
Can Conor McGregor sue Jake Paul?
Anurag Mitra
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 04 Jan 2021, 15:33 IST
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In a nutshell, Conor McGregor doesn't appear to have legal grounds to sue Jake Paul for slander.

Moreover, it also appears - contrary to the buzz on social media - that the UFC superstar is not suing Jake Paul for his comments.

Many people have been talking about a video where Jake Paul is seen crying over the multiple lawsuits that he has been slapped with and assumed it was the Irishman who filed against Paul.

However this is not true. Jake was merely informing his brother, Logan, about the multiple law suits he was a part of. None of these law suits had anything to do with Conor McGregor.

“I’m in four lawsuits. It consumes my f***ing life. I’m talking about hour-long phone calls multiple times a week, depositions, interrogations… lawyer calls to talk about the depositions, emails, finding evidence”, said Jake Paul in the interview with Logan.

The video was released on Feb 20, 2020, when Jake Paul hadn't yet crossed e-paths with Conor McGregor. He would only call out the Irishman after knocking out Nate Robinson, whom he fought on 28 November, 2020.

Does Conor McGregor have legal grounds to sue Jake Paul for his comments?

Let us deep-dive into whether or not the Irishman can sue Jake Paul for slander for insulting his longtime girlfriend. Professional athletes are consistently under public scrutiny. Call it a peril of fame, if you will, but famous athletes like Conor McGregor are always under the spotlight whether they choose to be or not.

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Such athletes will be the subject of defamatory remarks from all types of individuals across a wide range of mediums. From a general perspective, the term defamation is defined as a false statement about another that unjustly harms their reputation or image.

Though laws pertaining to defamation vary from place to place, the standard to determine whether a certain statement can be considered defamatory in nature is whether such a statement harms the reputation of the plaintiff. It has nothing to do with how the plaintiff feels about the statement.

There are two types of defamation, one is slander (the spoken word(s)) and the other is libel (the written word(s)). In the case of slander, the plaintiff must plead and prove the damage his reputation suffered due to the words spoken against him. In the case of libel, the plaintiff must follow the same protocol unless the defamatory statement falls under the following categories:

1) The allegation that the plaintiff committed a crime;

2) The allegation that tends to injure the plaintiff in his or her trade, business, or profession;

3) The allegation that the plaintiff has contracted a loathsome disease; and

4) The allegation that imputes unchastity to a woman.

None of the categories mentioned above appears to apply to Conor McGregor's case.

Another important thing to be noted here is that, in the case of private individuals who are the subject of a defamatory statement, just proving that the speaker of such a statement was merely negligent is enough.

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On the other hand, public figures, which includes professional athletes, have the onus to prove that the speaker of the defamatory statement(s) acted with actual malice.

Therefore, in Conor McGregor's case, being a public figure, he would have to explain that Jake Paul made the statement with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.

However, Paul's comments about Conor McGregor hitting an old guy in the bar isn't false. In fact, the Irishman was himself sued for the incident.

Therefore, Conor McGregor likely won't be able to sue Jake Paul for defamation because, from a legal standpoint, Jake's comments do not amount to slander.

Though his comments about Conor McGregor's girlfriend Dee Devlin are insulting in nature, they are merely speculative and based on his own opinion of her.

Published 04 Jan 2021, 15:33 IST
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