Is the Concept of Qualified Privilege Based In Public Policy and Where Is It Applicable ?
In Hahn v. Kotten (1975), 43 Ohio St. 2d 237, 331 N.E.2d 713, the Ohio Supreme Court recognized the qualified privilege defense in a defamation action.
The concept of qualified privilege is based in public policy, and is, therefore, applicable where society's interest in being protected by the dissemination of information outweighs the loss of reputation to a person defamed. a & B-Abell Elevator Co. v. Columbus Ohio Bldg. & Constr. Trades Council (1995), 73 Ohio St. 3d 1, 8, 651 N.E.2d 1283.
In Hahn, the Ohio Supreme Court stated
A publication is conditionally or qualifiedly privileged where circumstances exist, or are reasonably believed by the defendant to exist, which cast on him the duty of making a communication to a certain other to whom he makes such communication in the performance of such duty, or whether the person is so situated that it becomes right in the interests of society that he should tell third persons certain facts, which he in good faith proceeds to do.
The general idea has been otherwise expressed as follows:
A communication made in good faith on any subject matter in which the person communicating has an interest, or in reference to which he has a duty, is privileged if made to a person having a corresponding interest or duty, even though it contains matter which, without this privilege, would be actionable, and although the duty is not a legal one, but only a moral or social duty of imperfect obligation.
The essential elements of a conditionally privileged communication may accordingly be enumerated as good faith, an interest to be upheld, a statement limited in its scope to this purpose, a proper occasion and publication in a proper manner and to proper parties only.
The privilege arises from the necessity of full and unrestricted communication concerning a matter in which the parties have an interest or duty, and is not restricted within any narrow limits. 43 Ohio St. 2d at 245-46.