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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69365
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Can a world renowned and accepted expert who has given an opinion

Customer Question

Can a world renowned and accepted expert who has given an opinion that an item is a fake hence rendering it unsellable be held liable for financial loss if his opinion has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt to be unfounded?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
-Could you explain your situation a little more?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I am sorry for the delay in replying. Your email went intomy spam folde

I own a philatelic item which is undoubtedly genuine with undoubted scientific support. It received a negative opinion from a world accepted expert. The opinion has been completely discredited scientifically and proven to be unfounded.

It will be practically impossible to sell it with this cloud hanging over it.

Do I have grounds for litigation?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for that.
These comments may be defamatory. 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.
Under the new law there is a set definition of defamation and that is the statement must cause or be likely to cause 'serious harm' to the reputation of the claimant – S1 Defamation Act.
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.
Honest opinion is also now a defence under S3 Defamation Act replacing the old 'fair comment' defence. It really doesn't change much. A defendant relying on this section has to prove that an honest person could have held the opinion on the basis of any fact which existed or anything else asserted.
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.

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