Ever wondered what statements you make about other peole are going to get you in trouble?
Or what social media posts that were meant as jokes are going to get you sued?
Well, I’m sure you have heard of the sort of defamation and you have probably also heard of libel and slander.
Libel concerns lasting forms of publication such as print, online or broadcasting whereas slander is a transient form such as spoken words or gestures.
Both concern the publication of defamatory material, that is, something that adversely affects a person’s reputation.
A statement is not defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant.
Katie Hopkins (that lady who was once on the Apprentice and now makes money from her controversial views on anything and everything) has been ordered to pay a ‘fair and reasonable compensation’ for her libellous tweets.
This equated to £24,000 in damages plus £107,000 for legal costs – an expensive tweet!
The judge ruled that Twitter comments made by Hopkins about food writer Jack Monroe vandalising a war memorial were defamatory and that the serious harm requirement was satisfied, ‘on the straightforward basis that the tweets complained of have a tendency to cause harm to this claimant’s reputation in the eyes of third parties, of a kind that would be serious for her’.
Katie Hopkins had previously claimed that Twitter was “just the wild west where anything goes”.
This case shows that the opposite is true and as a result of this ruling, defamation cases will be easier to bring – meaning that we need to be even more careful about what we post on social media and elsewhere.
So the moral of the story is… be very careful what you write about (or share about) other people on social media, ensure that your policy regarding social media is robust, and that your staff understand the implications of using it.
So get in touch and let us help with your HR issues.
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Article from Suzanne Dibble, Small Business Legal Academy