How to Write an Apology to Mitigate Libel Damages

How to Write an Apology to Mitigate Libel Damages. There are some cases in which you may find that despite your best efforts, you have published a statement which is found not to be true, which has harmed the plaintiff's reputation and that the plaintiff may very likely be entitled to an award of damages. In such cases, you may be able to write an apology in order to mitigate the damages awarded. Mitigation does not mean that the alleged wrong has been undone, only that the judge or jury may consider the circumstances in which your statement was made.

Write the apology as soon as possible if you are certain the statement made is false. The quicker that you acknowledge that you have erred and retract your statement, the less damage may be done to the plaintiff's reputation. In fact, there are times when you can remove the specter of libel if you make an immediate apology before harm has been done.

Place the apology in as prominent a place as where the original statement was made. This means that if it was front page news, the retraction should also be placed where the same amount of people can read the new information. This also applies if the statement was made on the television or radio.

Be honest in your apology. If you relied on information that you thought was reliable, but wasn't, then explain the situation thoroughly when you write your apology. You will be looked upon more kindly if you are sincere, which in turn may help to mitigate your damages.

Be careful about writing an apology before there is sufficient information that your statement is false. If you haven't gone to court yet and do write an apology, you may be admitting liability, thereby preventing any defenses you may assert. Findlaw has extensive information on what constitutes libel (see Resources below).


  • To insure that you do not exacerbate your situation, make sure that you have legal representation. Your apology should not place you in a worse position than you already are.

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