High profile online defamation claims dominate the headlines. But instances of offline defamation also continue to cause concern for many. Traditional print media may not have the immediacy or global reach of the internet. Nevertheless, untrue, damaging comments can cause untold distress, embarrassment and financial loss. And this is true whether the victim is an individual or a large company.
At Nath Solicitors in London we regularly seek redress for clients who have been defamed on air, in newspapers, magazines books and other publications.
CAN I TAKE LEGAL ACTION AGAINST ANY DAMAGING COMMENT?
Defamation actions are expensive. Before you embark on any kind of formal claim you should seek legal advice. Just because you object to something that has been written about you or your business does not mean it is actionable. Defences to defamation claims include:
- Truth – If the comment is true your claim will fail – but it is up to the defendant to prove this
- The comment amounted to an ‘honest opinion’ of the author
- Arguing that publication was in the public interest
WHAT DO I NEED TO PROVE IN A DEFAMATION CLAIM?
The Defamation Act, 2013 introduced some changes to the law. As a result you now need to show you have suffered ‘serious harm’ to your reputation. A business must prove serious financial loss as a result of the material complained about.
Statistics from 2015 indicate a reduction of 40% from the previous year in the number of defamation cases issued in London. Whether this is due to the more stringent requirements of the 2013 legislation or the reported increase in legal costs for this type of action is unclear. But in our experience just as many people complain about defamation now as in the past. Their claims just don’t reach the stage where court proceedings are issued.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP?
The most effective solution is to address the potential defamation head-on, before it is published. If you are aware that defamatory material is about to be published you can instruct us to approach the author or publisher directly to explain why the material is defamatory and remind them of the consequences for them if they proceed to publication.
Despite the risks involved in defamation litigation there are clear legal remedies available. These include:
- Interim and permanent injunctions
- An Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) adjudication or correction
Depending on the facts of your case we can advise you on the most appropriate strategy for you to follow.
For more information on defamation call us on +44(0)203 670 5540 or contact us online.