What you can and should do if defamed -libelled or slandered!
When your reputation, or that of your business, has come under attack there are a number of important matters to help you and allow us to help you with any legal action.
Reply to an Attack
Consider carefully before you reply to any attack on your reputation, written or spoken, libel or slander, rumour or otherwise. Sometimes a swift rebuke of comments is appropriate but other times it can give short lived satisfaction but it may be seen by the courts as you addressing any damage and preventing legal action against the perpetrator. All facts and circumstances vary case by case and if unsure contact us for advice.
Any information which you feel is relevant should be kept for our review. The more information we have to put together the factual matrix surrounding the events complained of, the more we can help you and assist. You have only up to 12 months to take action in defamation from first publication so swift action well before that deadline and immediately if possible is crucial. The Court will question how swiftly you acted and delay in contacting the perpetrator may hold against you. Gather what evidence you can and come and contact us as soon as possible if you have, or there is a risk of, damage to your reputation.
Information is anything you believe is relevant to any allegations made, including to support your side of the facts or disproving the others. This can also include any correspondence or dealings between you and the perpetrator or others involved. Events will be mainly before publication (spoken or written), and any subsequent events, publications, comments and notes you may have of what has been reported to you by others since publication.
Also keep details of when others have spoken or reported any comments to you. What have you heard, are others talking about you or your company?
Libel- Obtain hard copies of any and all allegations, corrections or purported apologies which may appear in print whether in magazines, newspapers, books. This will assist us to identify how wide the publication has been, when, who by and where it has been published.
Once relevant information has been located, it is important to preserve this information so that it can be used as evidence at a later date. Examples include screen prints and print outs of emails and online publications, extracts from social media and web pages. Clients should seek where possible to have the date and time of publication and print out on any print outs obtained. This greatly assists any action and helps us know what happened when, especially if comments or publications are removed. Clients should make sure that they gather as much information as they can at the time of publication to prevent the perpetrator from deleting their comments etc.
In online defamation it may be that the perpetrator will initially be unknown, as the author of the defamatory publication may have made use of an anonymous email or social media account or created a defamatory webpage under a pseudonym. Clients should preserve what information they can to help us identify the perpetrator whether directly or indirectly.
Usually slander is verbal -one person to others – so it can be difficult at a later date to remember details if third parties have reported a defamatory allegation and the perpetrator to you. It is very useful if you can make your own dated notes of what was said and to who by whom, and when. It is also extremely useful if the others reporting back to you can provide a permanent note/email/statement of who said what to whom, when and where, who was there, what did the person think? Such notes are very helpful to us and as a contemporaneous (from the time of publication) can very helpfully be referred back to in a witness statement at a later date
Whilst we will do our best to prevent or minimise publications it may be the case they have already been made. In addition to the above, keep details of the impact of any allegations on you, and others close to you. Have the allegations impacted on you, or your business? Have they caused alarm or harm and distress to you? Have customers ceased to call or can you point to a drop in business/call/profit? Have you had any credit lines withdrawn or orders cancelled? Have you lost your job or friends or contacts? These are all serious matters affecting your reputation damage and details will assist us to help you.
You are the person who knows most about the events that led to the situation and it is therefore important that you invest time in your claim. Often there are complicating factors at play in any defamation (libel or slander) claim and you will often be asked to examine events weeks or sometimes many months after they took place. It is therefore important to keep notes as to what you are thinking at the time and why events unfolded as they did.
The more time you invest in your claim the better your chance of successfully bringing proceedings.
It is important to take advice from properly experienced solicitors who have expertise and experiencing in dealing with defamation proceedings. The ramification of proceedings can be serious and far reaching. There are various steps that can be taken in order to maximise your chances of success but ultimately proper advice is essential.
We will be very pleased to assist you.