How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Jo C. Your Own Question
Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70518
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
12826847
Type Your Law Question Here...
Jo C. is online now

My sister had written a public BLOG, using her full name, referring

Customer Question

My sister had written a public BLOG, using her full name, referring to both myself and both my parents, accusing them of physiological abuse as a child, and stating false, upsetting statements about us all. She has not used our names, but as she has used hers, and refers to us as "my mother, father, sister". Where do we stand on this matter?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Hi.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

Are you asking if you can sue?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
At the moment we are just seeing what (if any) options we have.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks for that.

These comments are defamatory if they are untrue. Defamation takes two forms. One is slander which covers the spoken word. The other is libel which covers the written.

You have to prove that the words are defamatory, that they would be understood to refer to you and that they have been published to a 3rd party.

Comments made directly to a person about themselves are not published and so cannot be defamatory however bad or untrue they are. If such contact were to continue it might amount to harassment.

There is no set definition of defamation. A statement is likely to be considered defamatory if it tends to do anyone of the following.

1 lower the claimant in the estimation of right minded members of society

2 disparage the claimant in his business, trade, office or profession

3 expose the claimant to hatred, ridicule or contempt or

4 cause the claimant to be shunned or avoided

An opinion, however, is not generally defamatory. People are entitled to an opinion under the human rights act and, indeed, under the common law generally. However, a person cannot hide behind the argument that a defamatory comment is just an opinion. For instance, if the person were to say “in my opinion, X is a liar with 15 convictions for theft" then that would be defamatory unless it were true. The opinion must be fair with some basis for it. It must be shown that it was a reasonable comments in all the circumstances.

Similarly, foul abuse is not defamatory although there might be other actions open to an aggrieved person.

Truth is a defence to defamation. The defendant would have to prove that it was the truth and that is reasonably hard to do so this defence is not often relied upon.

The real difficulty with defamation actions though is that they are very expensive. Unfortunately they are the domain of the very rich. That is not to say that you couldn't send a letter from a local solicitor for reasonable cost warning this person of the laws of libel and slander.

Also, you may want to consider other alternatives. This may amount to harassment which you can report to the police or sue at the civil courts much more economically. It might also be a malicious communication and you can report that to the police.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need any more information.

Jo
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
May I give you more information for a more detailed response please?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Yes, go on?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Whilst growing up, my parents made errors in their personal lives, they did not believe that they had any effects on their two children. My sister has, on her blog, recounted her version of events, which did not happen. She has said things to upset my fathers good reputation, and called my mother "narcissistic". And has told of events she has said happened within the family which were false. She has exaggerated things that have happened within my life, very hurtful, and very untrue.
The main issue is that she has used HER name, referred to her mother, her father and her sister. Anyone reading it who knows her, will know who she is referring too and will assume very hurtful,and false information about my very proud and already hurt and damaged parents.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Oh there won't be any difficulty with showing that the comments were directed at you. She doesn't have to name you to amount to a defamation.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
So what can we do about the situation? What is the nest step we should take?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Decide upon which course of action above you prefer.

Then seek a solicitor and get them to send her a letter before action. That might be enough to stop her.

if it fails then you can apply for an injunction forcing her to remove the posts and not repeat her libel
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Would the police (UK) be a good first option? Before involving expensive legal help?
Also, I am a student, on full housing benefit, would I receive legal help...in your opinion?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
No, I'm afraid you won't get legal aid.

The police are free. They may say this is a civil matter though and, in fairness, it is really. It is free to make a report.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Free to make a report to who?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
The police.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
One more question, how can I get her postal address. That is one matter we had not considered. Can we make contact through her blog alone?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
I wouldn't suggest it.

You can always use a tracing agent to locate her. Its usually under £100 and takes 24-48 hours.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.


No problem and all the best.

Remember that I am always available to help with your questions. Even if I am in Court I will usually pick up a question within 12 hours. For future information, please start your question with ‘For Jo C’. You can also bookmark my profile http://www.justanswer.co.uk/law/expert-remus2004/
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

For Jo C


 


I have a fact I forgot to mention, that may be of importance. She is a resident of Canada.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
That would be a problem.

You would have to sue her subject to domestic laws but Canada has a fairly similar jurisdiction to the UK.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Could you advise me of the next best step to take please?


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
You would need to get advice from somebody in the Canadian section. I don't know anything about the law in Canada.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Does that mean paying again, to another site?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.

You would need to ask another question in the Canadian law section. I can only tell you about the position in the UK because you posted in UK law.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Is the Canadian law section a part of this company?


Or can you guide me to where I need to go to please?


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
No, I'm sorry but I cannot. I know nothing at all about Canadian law. You asked a question about the situation in the UK. I do not practice in Canada.

I think justanswer.com has a Canadian section.