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Greene & Greene is a long established firm of solicitors based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Our lawyers advise individuals and businesses based all over the UK.

We regularly attract new clients who have been using firms in London, but now receive a more cost efficient and more personal service from us here in Bury St Edmunds.

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Entries in Defamation (1)

Wednesday
Dec112013

Many a careless word can amount to defamation or contempt of Court

The Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC MP, has recently issued guidance to Facebook and Twitter users with the aim of helping those who post on social media sites to avoid inadvertently or deliberately prejudicing criminal trials and thus ending up facing proceedings for contempt of Court. This guidance and its media coverage has, once again, drawn attention to the risks associated with the posting of ill-judged comments on such websites.

Over the course of the last year, reflecting the pattern of the last few years, we have handled a number of defamation cases that have arisen from the use of social media. Posters often seek to criticise or comment about individuals in the complete absence of any factual basis for the views they are expressing and thus defaming their victims. Our recent experience also suggests that there is a trend towards using postings in an attempt, and a poorly thought out one at that, to pressurise defendants into making concessions in Court proceedings.

One Client experienced this very recently when it came to light that postings were being made on Facebook at the same time as defamatory comments were being made elsewhere, all while the Client was defending a contractual claim by the poster. Within a week of our involvement we had negotiated a full apology and had secured the discontinuance of the contractual claim against the Client. In view of the speed with which the matter was resolved the Client elected not to press for damages and costs but could legitimately have done so.

Those who make careless postings on social media sites need to beware that defamation proceedings can be extremely expensive and time consuming and if they are found to be in contempt of Court they could be facing a prison sentence of up to 2 years.

Please contact Michael Batty on 01284 717414 ~ michaelbatty@greene-greene.com or Andrea Nicholls on 01284 717531 ~ andreanicholls@greene-greene.com for more information.