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NSW False Claims to Defamation Rights by Company - Take Action?

Discussion in 'Defamation Law Forum' started by wal22, 24 October 2015.

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  1. wal22

    wal22 Active Member

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    Several years ago, I posted some comments about a company on an Internet forum. Some of the comments were critical, however they were fundamentally true and were an expression of my opinion. Like a lot of Australians, I thought I enjoyed the right to free speech. At the same time, an associate of this company was writing glowing reviews on the forum and criticising me at every opportunity. It was quite obvious, that an unhappy customer did not fit into this game plan.

    I eventually received a letter claiming that I had defamed the company. It was post marked with the same date as my mother's funeral. As I was somewhat vulnerable, at the time, I sought legal advice and was advised that a company can only claim defamation if it has fewer than 10 employees. I was also told that no solicitor would write a letter with a false claim as the consequences would be severe for both the solicitor and the company.

    In order to finalise the matter, and in view of my mental condition at the time, I agreed that I would apologise, delete all my posts and pay the company's legal costs. The apology was in the form of a letter that was not published. I was also forced to give a commitment that I would make no further comments. I came to loathe myself for this decision. I subsequently discovered that the company actually had many employees and had no right to sue for defamation. I complained about the solicitor to the Legal Services Commissioner and was told "only a court can determine how many employees a company has," and the complaint was dismissed. Interestingly, a little later, the same solicitor was struck off for misappropriating funds from a trust account.

    My question is, can I now take some action against the company to restore my right to comment about this matter, as I am planning to write extensively about this episode and the impact it has had on my life.

    Thank you for your time.
     
  2. Sophea

    Sophea Well-Known Member

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    Hi wal22,

    It appears that what has happened is that this company has accused you of defamation and has agreed not to take action against you on condition that you take certain steps including the apology, paying their legal expenses and not making further comments. If you do make further comments, and breach this settlement arrangement they are within their rights to take any legal action that they intended to take in respect of the prior statements and any new defamatory statements that you make about the company. However, if as you say it is a large company with more than 10 employees then it cannot bring a defamation action. However, be careful because individuals associated with the company - i.e. managers and directors etc can bring defamation actions in their own right as individuals and may find a basis to sue you for defamation - depending on what you said or will say about them.

    If i were you I would cut your losses, learn from the events and move on. I don't know what you hope to achieve financially from any further action apart from perhaps retribution. Research shows that the more times we think about and ruminate on a matter that makes us angry the more unhappy, angry and depressed we are likely to be. The 3 deep breaths and move on technique has been found to be much more effective in promoting a peaceful and satisfying life.
     
  3. wal22

    wal22 Active Member

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    Thank you for the reply. You are probably right. I hate to see people benefit through dishonesty. We seem to have this developing culture, where it is no longer a matter of what is fair and just, or right or wrong. The new normal is a question of what you can get away with.

    I find this idea that company officials can claim defamation, when their name is not even mentioned, a very disturbing legal trend. This is hardly in the spirit of the parliaments that brought the new laws into being, which were essentially designed to end the corporate bullying and intimidation of the past. The historic "Slapp Suit" comes to mind.
     

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