Defamation

An individual or organisation’s reputation is important. Loss of a good reputation can mean lost livelihood and professional standing. Our clients range from individuals in the public eye to businesses who wish to protect their reputation and that of their staff.

What is reputation management?

Reputation management is the process of handling how the public perceive an individual or organisation. Very often a third party will make comments about an individual or business that are unflattering or defamatory. We can advise on whether statements made (online or in other forms) are defamatory, and whether can be removed or retracted.

What is defamation?

Defamation is defined as an untrue statement that tarnishes the reputation of someone or a company in the eyes of right-thinking individuals. It can be divided into either slander or libel, depending on how the comments are made.

The offending statements have to be published or communicated to a third party.

What’s the difference between libel and slander?

If a defamatory comment is written down, such as on social media, it is libel. If the same defamatory comment is spoken, it’s considered slander. Both libel and slander are types of defamation and can have serious effects on your reputation. You can find out more about defamation on social media in our guide.

Making a defamation claim

Suing for defamation can be a lengthy process, depending on whether the third party accepts fault or not.

Before you go to court, you need to give the third party the opportunity to apologise. Often, the matter can be resolved with a retraction or an apology and you can avoid the expense and inconvenience of going to court.

If the third party denies the allegation, says their statement is true, or ignores the correspondence, you may want to take them to court. At this point, our experienced legal team will help you decide whether your claim is likely to succeed if you choose to issue proceedings to the High Court. We’ll advise you of the estimated cost of pursuing your case.

Defamation on social media

Social media is a common area where defamatory statements are published, with users often feeling free to voice their opinions and thoughts without worrying about any consequences. A defamatory statement can be made on social media and published to thousands of people within seconds. Online review sites that ask users to rate a service or business are also often a platform used by people to make defamatory statements

If your case concerns a comment made on social media, we can advise you on whether the website owner should be asked to remove it or if the individual who made the offending comment should be pursued.

Why choose Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors?

You have a wide choice of libel and slander solicitors and understand that picking the right firm for you is crucial. At Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors, we want to give you the best legal advice possible, whether you decide to progress your claim with us or not. Our specialist lawyers have more than 40 years of experience in defamation, data protection and privacy law.

We’ll advise you on whether your case is likely to succeed, as well as any potential risks or costs associated with taking action.

We will treat your defamation case with respect and delicacy, while ensuring you get the best possible outcome.

Case Study

  • Our client, an accountant, was accused of being unprofessional, dishonest and overcharging for his services. The comments were made online via Google on the business’s review section. As the comments were anonymous, Hodge Jones & Allen lawyers contacted Google to instruct them to remove the offending post. They initially refused, citing the fact that the post didn’t breach their terms and conditions. We issued a formal takedown notice to their head office, highlighting their responsibilities under English law. The post was removed, and the matter settled without the need to head to court.
  • We acted for a limited company. One of their employees was being harassed online and through the post by a third party. The third party had already been warned by the police about their behaviour but this did not stop them from continuing a campaign of harassment against our client’s employee.We applied to court for an injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 without notice to the harasser. This was granted and upheld at two further hearings. Eventually the harasser was also ordered to pay our client’s costs of the action.

Frequently asked questions

I am getting unpleasant or threatening emails or social media posts, what can I do?

Harassment is defined by the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 has “a course of conduct which amounts to harassment which the perpetrator knows or ought to know amounts to harassment”. This can include threats made online on social media and through email as well as harassment in real life. We have acted for a number of individuals and organisations who have been subject to harassing behaviour from third parties.

In such cases it may be possible to stop the behaviour of the harassing third-party by a formal letter known as a “cease and desist letter”. If a cease and desist letter does not stop the harassing behaviour it may be necessary to issue proceedings under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and obtain a harassment injunction. This is an injunction that orders the harassing party to stop their behaviour. If they do not stop the behaviour they can be brought again to court for contempt of court.

How much does an injunction cost?

Injunctions can be necessary when trying to resolve defamation cases. The costs of issuing an injunction differs depending on the amount of available evidence. Our specialist team will be able to give you a breakdown of the costs and advise you on the best course of action.

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