X wrote a letter to Y in a sealed envelope, containing defamatory matter concerning Y. A servant of Y opens his master’s letter and reads the contents. Y sues X for defamation.
X is not liable for defamation.
The reasons are:
- Defamation is the publication of statement, which tends to lower a person in the estimation of right thinking members of society.
- Publication means conveying the defamatory statement to any person other than the person concerned.
- Here, since the defamatory statement is conveyed to the person defamed directly, there is no publication. He has also taken steps to prevent others from seeing it by sending it in a closed envelope.
- The servant opening and seeing the contents is not the defendant’s fault and hence not binding on him. So, X is not liable for defamation.