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Internet defamation, is becoming more and more a survival issue for a growing number of individuals and organisations across the UK.
In most cases where we are instructed to remove defamation from the internet, we do so successfully and without putting our clients through expensive litigation. In most cases we can facilitate the removal of defamatory web pages through an affordable, yet persuasive Cease and Desist letter or by negotiations.
Even if the offending website is located outside the jurisdiction of the English Courts, a well drafted letter might still be sufficient to have the defamatory content removed.
However, more and more internet service providers such as Google and Bing ask for a court order before they agree to remove defamation from their websites, unless we can point their legal departments to specific breaches of their own terms and conditions of use.
In 99% of the cases, Google will remove defamatory webpages upon receipt of a copy of a claim form. This often meets our client's objectives, which means that there is no longer a need to pursue the matter further and at additional costs.
Read more: Obtaining injunctions against Google
As a busy director of a small company that prides itself in excellent customer care, Rodney was surprised to discover an anonymous blog post on Blogger, which referred to him and to his company as 'fraud' and 'scam'.
Rodney believed that the blog post was created by a competitor but he was unable to prove this. Rodney wrote to Google several times and asked them to remove the defamatory blog post but he never received a reply. He then contacted a number of defamation solicitors who advised him that bringing a court action to order Google to remove the blog post will cost him between £15,000 - £20,000, which was his company's entire annual marketing budget.
Rodney's company was turning just over £500,000 per annum so he now had to make some important financial decisions. Should he invest the entire marketing budget in a court action, which might or might not be successful or perhaps should he use the money to manipulate the search engines so that the defamatory blog be kept away from public view?
By working with Rodney, we helped him to identify a practical solution to his problem.
Instead of embarking on a full legal action for defamation, we advised him to apply for a limited court order which told Google to provide information about the identity of the blogger (order known as Norwich Pharmacal Order) at the approximate cost of £2,000. Upon receipt of a copy of the application, Google immediately removed the blog post.
Rodney's goal of removing the defamatory blog was achieved and at the same time, his action sent a clear message to his competitor that he was being serious about pursuing the identity of those who defame his company.