Protection of business reputation
The business success of an entrepreneur or a company largely depends on the reputation formed over the years of previous activity. However, a sudden negative news concerning you personally or your enterprise, may sometimes lead to significant reputational losses. The news is spread by mass media and in social networks, and from now on the company, formerly proud of its good name, begins to loose its customers and business partners. The only way to justify yourself is to go to court, prove the falseness of the charges and call the slanderers to account.
How to recognize the spread information as discrediting
Recovery of business reputation through the court is possible only if the information about the entrepreneur or the company:
- are negative and discredit his reputation;
- do not correspond to the actual state of affairs, i.e. are false;
- distributed by third parties.
It is very difficult to prove that the spread information tarnishes business reputation if the information contains real facts. But when it comes to deliberate lies or tendentious coverage of actual events, it is possible and necessary to protect your reputation. And our lawyers can assist you in this issue by all means provided by the law.
Discrediting information generally is an unreliable information stating that the enterprise violates the law, uses the untrue advertising, performs business activity in bad faith, violate business ethics, and etc. In court you must prove that the published information is related to your company, is untrue and is leading to real damages to the company by:
- decrease in competitiveness, decrease in sales of products;
- deterioration of reputation among business partners, customers and the public, which may result in the loss of business ties, credit denials, etc.;
- deterioration of the company's development prospects.
At the same time, published discrediting information should bear characteristics of a statement, but not a subjective assessment, which shall have to be confirmed by expertise. Subjective opinion does not confirm or refute, but only evaluates the facts, so it can not be a reason for a lawsuit. If false statements are contained in information discrediting business reputation, they can and should be refuted in court.
For example, a statement of a certain blogger that the soft drink produced by your company tastes disgusting, is a typical value judgment. If the blogger spreads information that the company uses low-quality ingredients in the preparation of the drink, you can refute his statement with facts, by the expert opinion, by the results of checking the quality of the drink, etc.
How to prove the spread of discrediting information
Proof of spreading of information is an important step in protecting the reputation. Mass media, Internet resources, public speeches, press statements and appeals to officials, as well as oral messages transmitted to at least one person without warning about the confidentiality of the information can be used for this purpose.
The court may refuse to consider the claim if the method of spreading the negative information is not specified and confirmed. However, this aspect of the reputation protection strategy is usually not a problem. Confirming the fact of spreading is not that hard: it is necessary to attach a copy of a newspaper article containing discrediting information, a notarized screenshot of the website or social network, a video of a public person's speech or specify any another way to spreading information in the statement of claim.
Refutation of discrediting information
The main purpose of a trial is usually the recognition of published information as unreliable. It is not necessary to go to court to protect the reputation, extrajudicial method of refuting slanderous information is possible within the framework settlement of a civil dispute. However, in practice, it is difficult to force the spreader of such information to publish a refutation without a court decision. Therefore, it is usually necessary to protect the business reputation in court.
Claims related to the protection of business reputation are subject to arbitration, if it is one of the aspects of economic and/or business activity. This rule also applies in cases where the defendant is a natural person (author of an article, blogger, politician or other person of renown). When reputation protection is necessary for a non-profit organization, the case is considered by the territorial court of General jurisdiction.
As your non-property right is subject to protection in such claims, there are no restrictions on the limitation of the event. The exception is publications in mass media: you can demand their refutation only within a year from the date of publication of the discrediting information.
To restore your business reputation you may require:
- to publish a refutation of false information in the media that previously published discrediting information;
- to withdraw or to replace the documents containing inaccurate information;
- to remove the published information from the Internet resources;
- to withdraw copies of newspapers, magazines, leaflets and other physical carriers with discrediting information and to stop their further distribution.
Publication of refutations, withdrawal of newspaper and magazine issues and other actions shall be carried out at the expense of the defendant.
Compensation for losses incurred
The most difficult part of legal proceedings is to demand compensation for the damage that was caused to the activities of your company due to the publication of discrediting information. Until December 4, 2003, when the constitutional Court of the Russian Federation issued a Ruling No. 508-O, legal entities had no rights to compensation for harm. But even today, the courts are very reluctant to make decisions on compensation for material damage caused by the publication of inaccurate information. Even if it is possible to obtain a compensation, its amount is much less than the required.
However, in any case it is not recommended to refuse compensation for losses. Our lawyers will make every effort to restore justice, including in respect of financial losses. Contact us to discuss all aspects of the future claim, to develop an optimal legal position and to determine the main directions for the actions of lawyers in the case of defending your business reputation.