In this case study, we undertake a case study of a recent case Birchgrove Legal was involved in regarding a highly respected community member who was defamed through a Facebook post. Birchgrove Legal intervened in a timely fashion, pursuing the appropriate remedies and achieving a strong result which cleared our client’s name, safeguarded their reputation and secured legal costs.
As we have previously noted, the evolution of digital mediums has led to novel developments in the area of defamation law. Our well received white paper last year on defamatory content online and the responsibility of online intermediaries explored this issue in some detail.
As we noted there, the regulation of defamatory content has progressively developed over time. The ease and accessibility of the internet means that potentially defamatory content is becoming increasingly widespread on social media outlets and online discussion forums.
Chief among these are social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.
In this particular case, Facebook was the medium of choice for a vindictive, misplaced and fallacious post made regarding our client, a well-known and well-respected community figure.
The post in question accused the community member of fraud and dishonesty, as well as taking money from “welfare services” in a way that was “undeserved”. Finally, the post accused our client of “not paying a fair rent amount”.
The internet often gives platforms to individuals who have either personal or other issues with others, allowing them to make unsubstantiated remarks. In most cases, these incidents are innocuous and pass off without deserving much in the way of response. However, such comments can nonetheless be highly damaging when directed at individuals of community standing and repute. This was precisely the case in this particular matter.
The claims were wholly untrue, lacked evidence of any kind and were highly defamatory and damaging to the reputation of an upstanding individual known for their character and good work in the community.
Our client approached Birchgrove Legal for advice and representation, highly concerned about the impact of the comments on their reputation.
We advised our clients and provided them with a number of legal avenues to remedy the matter. Birchgrove Legal sought to take action expeditiously given the potential for the false comments to gain traction. A concerns notice was sent out by Birchgrove Legal asking for the immediate removal of the defamatory and damaging posts and asking for an immediate apology. Further, argued that our clients be paid their reasonable legal costs.
Soon after the concerns notice was sent, the defamatory post was taken down and there was an apology issued via social media by the poster to our client.
Further, our clients had their legal costs paid by the other side in a timely fashion.
This case demonstrates the criticality of acting fast in such a case. In the digital era, reputation is paramount, and comments and imputations on digital channels spread fast, harmfully and without the ability to “turn back the clock” in most cases.
If you feel like you have been made the subject of defamatory comments on social media platforms, please do not hesitate to contact our team for an obligation-free consultation to assess your legal options against the person making the comments.