Our client is an authentic fashion designer online retailer who uses social media sites such as Instagram to garner customers and attract them to his website. After much success selling their products online, our client was approached by existing customers questioning the authenticity of his products. This doubt in relation to our client’s products being authentic was later discovered to be promoted by another online retailer (‘the Defendant’) who made several false and defamatory statements against our client and his business.
Prior to instructing us, our client had attempted to contact Instagram in relation to the defamatory posts made against his company. Unfortunately, Instagram were unable to assist in the removal of the Defendant’s defamatory statements against our client’s business and therefore our client sought legal assistance.
To assist in the removal of the defamatory posts made against our client there were several issues that were required to be addressed.
Firstly, it became apparent that whilst the Defendant made accusations that our client’s products were not authentic, these statements had caused existing customers to doubt the credibility of our client and potential business ventures to withdraw their interest. To combat these statements made publicly and to address the concerns of existing customers, proof of authenticity was provided to the Defendant. Initially, we hoped that providing a valid explanation to the claims made against our client would result in the withdrawal of the Defendant’s statements. However, due to the publicity gained by both parties through the public nature of their businesses, at first, the Defendant was reluctant to remove the posts as they believed they had a right to provide their opinion on our client’s products.
Honest Opinion is a common defence used when facing a Defamation claim and where applicable removes liability for any harm caused against a Claimant where it is found that a statement made is one of honest opinion and is not a false statement made against a Claimant. However, in our client’s instance, this was not applicable because rather than stating in his opinion our client’s products were not authentic, the Defendant made direct false statements claiming our client’s products were not authentic without any basis and went on to link our client’s Instagram page to the false comments made.
The second issue to arise was that the Defendant was anonymous and had no personal details through their page which ironically accused others of not being authentic. To overcome this issue we used various investigatory tools and services which were fruitful in enabling us to be able to communicate with the Defendant. Once communication was established we provided an in-depth cease and desist letter before action detailing: how the Defendant’s statements were defamatory, the ongoing harm to our client’s reputation, and serious financial losses that our client incurred as a direct result of the Defendant’s false statements.
This proved to be very effective, resulting in the Defendant removing the posts from his Instagram page and issuing an apology to our client which could be used to show to clients who had previously been concerned about the authenticity of their products as a result of the Defendant’s statements.
Our client was a professional investor who had previously invested in an investment company of which the Defendant was the general manager, managing our client’s investment portfolio with the company.
Our Client went on to make several investments into the Defendant’s company. However, when it came to our client redeeming their investment from the company the Defendant’s relationship with our client began to deteriorate.
The Defendant went on to create a website defaming our client through false statements which claimed our client was a ‘criminal’, ‘stalker’, ‘fraudster’ and not to hire our client. This brought distress and anxiety to our client who went on to instruct us to assist in the removal of the defamatory website and prevent any future defamatory publications being made by the Defendant.
Due to the severity of the publications and the negative impact our client was facing, we issued a detailed letter before claim to the Defendant explaining, the defamatory nature of the defendant’s comments, how they have negatively impacted our client and the consequences he would face if in the event the website was not taken down.
In most instances, once the Defendant becomes aware of the severity of the matter, they become very compliant and usually amicably take down defamatory posts made against our clients. Nevertheless, in this instance the Defendant was begrudged due to the break down in relationship with our client. This required our client to take legal action against the Defendant.
Our client went on to issue legal proceedings for defamation against the Defendant in the High Court. Whilst complying with court procedures for issuing a defamation claim, we were able to successfully negotiate and agree a settlement agreement in favour of our client, which included the removal of the Defendant’s website and a contractual agreement that the Defendant would not make any further Defamatory posts against our client. The Defendant was initially reluctant to agree to remove the posts, however when informed of the potential substantial costs to take the claim to trial and the legal fees that would incur, the Defendant became compliant. Our client was very content with the outcome of his case, because if the Defendants actions were left unchecked the client would have potentially been facing unrepairable damage to his career and reputation within the investment industry.
If you believe you are facing similar issues with defamatory posts made against you online, please do not hesitate to get in contact with using the contact details provided within our site.
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