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Home // A practical approach to online defamation

When someone makes a false statement about you to a third party – whether online or in traditional media – and the statement damages your reputation in some way, you may be able to bring a legal action for defamation.

As London solicitors specialising in defamation we are in a position to advise you not just on technical aspects of the law but also on the useful, practical solutions available to you when faced with defamatory material online that is harming your personal or professional reputation. We are regularly asked to deal with negative online reviews for example and to investigate websites that publish defamatory material about our clients.

DEFAMATION AND AVOIDING COURT

At Nath Solicitors we understand that clients who have been defamed online are sometimes reluctant to go to court. This may be for a number of reasons, including:

• The risk of losing and consequent exposure to substantial legal costs
• Adverse publicity inherent in bringing a case to court
• Delay and uncertainty that could end up causing more damage than the original defamatory comments

The good news is that court is rarely the best way forward when tackling online defamation. Before embarking on any formal legal action a simple request to a website owner or to the individual who has posted contentious content on their personal blog or website can be surprisingly effective.

In our experience the vast majority of online defamation cases can be satisfactorily resolved in this way. Following a request – or takedown notice – many online publishers will remove the material, keen to avoid the disruption involved in defending a defamation case.

REQUESTING REMOVAL OF DEFAMATORY MATERIAL

When requesting the removal of defamatory material it’s essential to act quickly so that the potential harm caused by any offending material is minimised. It’s also worthwhile obtaining specialist advice to ensure your request leaves the person who made the defamatory comments in no doubt about what you want them to do.

Would you be satisfied with a correction or retraction posted alongside the offending material? Most of our clients wouldn’t be. What they want is for the material deleted completely. And it’s essential to spell this out in your request. If deletion isn’t possible you should ask for all defamatory comments and references to you to be redacted, and if possible for a ‘noindex’ tag to be inserted in the website’s code so that the material does not appear in future Google searches.

WHAT IF REQUEST FOR REMOVAL IS IGNORED?

Of course, not all takedown requests will succeed. If necessary you should seek further legal advice about options. At Nath Solicitors we offer a comprehensive advice service on all aspects of defamation and related matters, including:

• The legal aspects of harassment
• The possibility of bringing a case to the Information Commissioner for misuse of private information if appropriate.
• How to enforce your ‘right to erasure or right to be forgotten under GDPR

For more information please contact our legal director Shubha Nath on + 44 (0) 203 670 5540 or contact the firm online .

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