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WA Blackmail and Extortion by Threat?

Discussion in 'Criminal Law Forum' started by Michael6262, 28 June 2015.

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  1. Michael6262

    Michael6262 Member

    28 June 2015
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    My company is involved in a legal dispute with another company. They brought a suit against us which we believe is false and are defending.

    The other company has now sent a letter to us stating that if we give them $500,000 for their company they will drop their law suit.

    They also included in the letter the following:

    "The defendants should be aware that the plaintiff is in possession of documents indicating the defendants have breach a court order and if the offer to buy is not accepted then the plaintiff will likely bring an application in this regard."

    I feel that this is blackmail as the lawyer who sent the letter is attempting to gain money from us by threatening to accuse me of an indictable offence in an attempt to get me to succumb to their demands.

    I have been told that Lawyers are exempt from blackmail charges and can make such threats under their rights given to them to write letter of demand.

    I am at a loss and would appreciate some clarification or guidance on the matter.

    Kind Regards.
  2. Tracy B

    Tracy B Well-Known Member

    24 December 2014
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    Hi Michael6262,

    The lawyers who advised you are somewhat correct.

    Lawyers are not exempt from blackmail charges. However, threatening to pursue legal action against another is not blackmail. A civil demand is a defence to blackmail or extortion. This is because a person, whether a lawyer or any other person, has a right to pursue (a legitimate) legal action against another person who has wronged them. To threaten to exercise this right is not illegal. The person can offer to waive this right if the other person does something in exchange. This is called a "settlement". This happens all the time in law.

    This cannot be blackmail because the person is offering to forgo a right they already have in exchange for something else.

    Otherwise, any threat to litigate would fall under the strict definition of "blackmail or extortion" because it essentially says: I will sue you in court unless you pay me a debt, compensation, or do something else I want that benefits me.

    Hope this makes sense.

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