Achieving a successful outcome is more straightforward when you know the person or company that has published the offending material. But there are still considerable hurdles to overcome before proceeding with a substantive defamation action.
If you don’t know who to bring your claim against, different procedures apply.
Pursuing a case that has little merit is risky. Legal costs can quickly mount and you may end up exacerbating the damage caused by the comments you object to by drawing more attention to it.
To be defamatory, a published statement must lower an individual or business in the opinion of ‘right-thinking members of society’. In other words, you need to ask the question: would people think less of you or your business because of the statement?
In addition to establishing the defamatory nature of a particular statement you must be able to prove that:
You usually have one year to bring forward a case for defamation it is essential you seek legal advice as quickly as possible. Our priority is to identify the publisher as the rules are strict with regards to who the correct defendant is in particular situations.
We may need to differentiate between:
Once we have ascertained the identity of the publisher, what has been written or said and we understand why it is not true, we can address your case head on.
If we think you have a strong case we will approach the publisher requesting the material be removed – usually within hours – and indicate our intention to seek an injunction if it is not.
Going to court can be risky and expensive. We work hard to find a negotiated settlement that you are happy with before pursuing formal action. It is crucial to seek advice as soon as you are made aware of the offending material. Demonstrating your concern to publishers – and your clear intention to pursue legal action if necessary – will concentrate minds and could make a settlement easier to reach. Acting quickly will also minimise the potential damage of the defamatory statement.
For more information and advice from our defamation experts, call us on +44(0)203 670 5540 or contact us online.
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