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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 30929
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Through no fault of my own, my last business ceased to trade

Customer Question

Through no fault of my own, my last business ceased to trade and was bought by another individual part of the agreement was that I assist with the handover - I had hoped to satisfy all small creditors but this became impossible, apart from HMRC my partner and I were the main creditors and will/have received nothing. A creditor of the former company is harassing NewCo on Social Media and I am not sure how to respond.

His debt has nothing to do with this company.

I have had a dialogue with the individual only last week and he has now said on the company Twitter feed that he has been trying to contact re payment for almost a year.
[Which is simply not true] and he has started to communicate this to others inc a radio station
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.

Alex Watts :

Hello my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return. There is no need to wait here, you will get an email when I reply.

Alex Watts :

Was it a Limited Company you had or a partnership/sole trader please?

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

Hello Alex - The company was Ltd and ceased to trade in March. Is this an area in which you have have expertise? I hope you don't mind but we would have preferred this to be handled by another individual advertised on the home page - and thought this choice would have come up in the payment process.

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

As we are new to Justanswer we were unsure of the format.

Alex Watts :

You wish me to opt out?

Alex Watts :

I advise on Company Law yes

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

Yes please, sorry but we do need to be very specific. What I do now we have made a payment?

Alex Watts :

Did the new owner just start to trade again?

Alex Watts :

The same Limited Company name?

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

No, the product was altered, the name changed, new company, new owner but with agreed assistance from me until the business stabilises.

Alex Watts :

Ok. So a brand new Limited Company. What is it you want to be able to achieve, him to stop?

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

Yes of course - he has gone onto Facebook and the Twitter feed of the new company and engaged in a dialogue a post simply to make this statement will be insufficient and potentially inflammatory. He needs to delete his comments before this escalates.

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

ie I meant to post a 'statement such as please note that xxxx has no connection with xxx will be insufficient and potentially inflammatory'

Alex Watts :

But is what he saying true?

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

Yes and No - No because we have been accessible and have spoken many times to advise him of the situation he is saying he has not been able to contact. Yes because the previous company could not pay him but he is attaching the comment to the new company feed and as the two are similar but not the same the association is there. We sought advice, ensured that there is no question of a passing off and acted accordingly.

Alex Watts :

This is a difficult one.........

Alex Watts :

If what they are saying is not true then you may have a claim in libel which is written format.

Alex Watts :

You would need to write and ask them to stop or say that you would go to Court.

Alex Watts :

If that does not work then you can go to a Solicitor and get them to write a letter and ask them to stop. Clearly this means there would be a cost involved.

Alex Watts :

If he refuses then you could consider Court action to get this stopped and seek damages.

Alex Watts :

The downside is that if the matter is defended and it proceeds to a trial then you need to issue proceedings in the High Court and it is very specialst. The cost to trial would be in excess of £15,000.

Alex Watts :

In any event they do have a number of defences in that it is true, it is fair comment.

Alex Watts :

If that is the case then the Judge would dismiss any claim.

Alex Watts :

Even if you win you can ask the Judge for costs but typically you only ever get back 75% of the costs so you would be out of pocket by £3500+

Alex Watts :

If you lose then you are liable for your own costs and the costs of the other side too.

Alex Watts :

I am sorry if this is not necessarily the answer you want and it is certainly not the one I want to give but I have a duty to be honest.

Alex Watts :

Claims for things that are said that are untrue are very hard to bring to Court because of the specialist nature.

Alex Watts :

But you can take action but it would be very costly and take around 9 months to get to Court.

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

Alex we are way off track here - this is social media reputation management - we simply need to tell him to stop, nipping it in the bud before it goes around Twitter and the rest.

Alex Watts :

You said that it had been on Twitter etc?

Alex Watts :

That is what I understood it to be - you said the Company is harassing on Social Media?

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

This is a silly little individual who is using Twitter to smear our name - he is a 25 year old clever a**e

Alex Watts :

OK - do you know who he is and where he lives?

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

Alex I am sorry but I think we will leave it now - we are way off track here

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

Yes I know where he lives and who he is

Alex Watts :

Ok So all you need at this stage is a cease and desist letter?

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

A simple way of putting the wind up him and to make sure he does not damage my reputation in the area

Alex Watts :

Ok. Are you asking us to send one or do you want to know how to go about doing it?

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

How to go about doing it

Alex Watts :

First you need to write to him and ask him to stop - or say that you will go to Court, issue proceedings and seek injunctive relief and that you would be seeking costs from him which would be substantial.

Alex Watts :

Ask for written confirmation that he will stop straight away and unless he responds you will issue proceedings within 7 days.

Alex Watts :

Send this letter recorded delivery and keep a copy.

Alex Watts :

If this does not work or you do not get a response then you need to see a Solicitor to get them to send a similar letter but they would have the advantage of having it on a firms letterhead.

Alex Watts :

Again they will say the same and detail what the offending remarks are etc.

Alex Watts :

The cost of this would be around £250 or so depending on how much time is taken with you and drafting the letter.

Alex Watts :

If he still refuses then you need to consider your options.

Alex Watts :

Solicitors are available local to you and can be seen at: http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/find-a-solicitor/

Alex Watts :

You want to select the option - defamation law.

Alex Watts :

Does that help you today?

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

No not really to be honest, social media can ruin a business within 24 hours, a cease and desist letter was an obvious one to me it was experience of social media/Twitter that I needed.

Alex Watts :

I agree.

Alex Watts :

But in order to get an emergency injunction there has to be a threat of serious harm

Alex Watts :

Even an injunction can take 24 hours to get on an emergency basis.

Alex Watts :

For non emergency the Court would list it and that would be 14 days even for an interim hearing.

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

No this is not the way I wanted to go - sorry Alex you have told me the standard stuff but not the new stuff

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

I will re-consider where I am with this

Alex Watts :

I can not tell you a legal answer that does not exist, it may be something you already know but legally that does not mean it is wrong.

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

OK

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

I know where you are coming from

Alex Watts :

I wish I could tell you a different answer I really do as it is my goal to make you happy.

Alex Watts :

But I also need to be honest.

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

But your advice is not what I wanted - I need to think what I need to do next

Alex Watts :

And the truth is unless there is a serious risk of harm a Court is not even going to consider an emergency injunction

Alex Watts :

Which is all you can do apart from a letter from a Solicitor.

JACUSTOMER-5n8nyc1g- :

Sorry Alex I don't wish to continue

Alex Watts :

ok - good luck with this.

Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 3 years ago.
Hello,

It seems the professional has left this conversation. This happens occasionally, and it's usually because the professional thinks that someone else might be a better match for your question. I've been working hard to find a new professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right professional can take a little longer than expected.

I wonder whether you're OK with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.

Thank you!
Nicola

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