Defamation and protection of reputation: personal or business, on-line and off-line

These days whether in the context of business or personal life, the protection of one’s reputation is more important than ever before. Damaging, obscene, and untrue comments/photos about a business or individual are easier to circulate than ever before. That is obviously because of the easy access of everyone to the internet and to social media in particular. Twenty-five years ago, it was often journalists on tabloid Fleet Street newspapers, perhaps based less than a hundred yards from our present offices that did such harm. However, times have changed.

Malicious damaging reviews online from those who are not even your customers or clients can do immeasurable financial harm to a business, particularly these days where many people rely on online reviews before buying a particular product or service.

You can bring a claim where someone unjustifiably damages your reputation. That is known as defamation. When it occurs in a permanent or written form, it is colloquially called libel. If it is spoken, people often call it ‘slander’.

Apart from assisting in actions for defamation, there are other ways in which we can assist if you believe that your reputation has been damaged online. The company responsible for the online publishing bears some responsibility under certain EU directives and other legislation. We can organize the notification of the company in the proper manner so that any defamatory material is removed within a requisite time-frame. The notifications given to the company must be in the proper format and wording, referring to the relevant statutes.

The companies in question are usually internet host provider companies including Google,Yahoo, Facebook and Microsoft. The law covers comments made by third parties on sites provided/hosted by them as well including on comment pages.

Amongst the other statutes and regulations which govern this situation are the Data Protection Act 1998 (for the handling and processing of personal data) , the Defamation (Operators of Websites) Regulations 2013, and the E-Commerce Regulations 2002. We are familiar with these and are able to use the force of them against the internet companies to obtain the removal of malicious material. When companies fail to do so, we do not hesitate to issue proceedings, although it is rare that this becomes necessary.

If you have a difficult defamation problem and would like advice as to the best way to deal with it, please contact us.

Alternatively, if you are worried because you think you might have got yourself into trouble by accidentally saying something without thinking which you think might be defamatory, please seek advice from us.

Defamation is a particular area of law where if you are a potential defendant to a claim, you could save yourself considerable expense later in terms of liability for compensation, by taking expert professional advice at an early stage. You should certainly not sit back to see what happens.

Please direct all enquiries to our solicitor Kuldeep S. Clair.

Contact Kuldeep Clair:

Phone: +44 (0) 20 7822 8599

Mobile: +44 (0) 7484 61 4090

Fax: +44 (0) 870 23520 4427

E-mail: kuldeep@sterlinglawyers.co.uk