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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70187
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Please could someone let me know if the following comments,

Resolved Question:

Please could someone let me know if the following comments, received via email, are something the sender should be worried about (libellous)?
This parent has decided to take offence at being given options for her child's dance lessons as the dance organisation has made schedule changes, and not wanting any of the options. There is no punishing going on whatsoever.
"I thought **** cared about the children???"
"I just understand how you can punish a 8 year old who loves coming because the amount of classes he does is not enough can you explain???"
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
No, those are not libellous comments. They are just questions. I suppose they contain an implication that the children are not cared about but that does not get over the hurdle of causing serious damage to a reputation.
Repeated contacted might amount to harassment.
This is just an unreasonable parent who thinks that the world revolves around her child. Those parents are fairly obnoxious but it doesn't amount to defamation.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Jo,

Thanks for responding. You may remember me from last week, with another parent who has a vendetta out for us. This new woman is her friend...

The second sentence isn't just a question, she's actually asking how we can punish her child. It's like saying 'when did you beat your wife last?'.

There's an implied assumption that we have actually punished her child, when in reality, I spent the entire day yesterday giving her options of what her son could do.

Thanks,

Paul

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Oh no, it is a question to which she doesn't want an answer. It is the type of question that amounts to a criticism.
That doesn't make it defamation.
I'm afraid that people these days don't understand that their children are not as special to everybody as they are to them.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Ok, thanks.

Can you tell me (and I probably should have done this with the first woman), if I ask her not to contact us in any way, if she does, where do we stand?

Thanks Jo

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Is her child stil on your books?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

She has said that she will withdraw from classes, so effectively no, not now.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
If she does withdraw then she has no reason to contact you.
If she does not then she does realistically.
I suppose if she has no reason to contact you and she continues then that would be harassment but I wouldn't make a habit of making reports of that nature. It weakens the genuine reports if you keep doing it. The price of doing business is that some customers are unreasonable. Also, you really want to preserve the right to make a report to people who are genuinely damaging business.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

That's the thing - we don't know how much damage they have done or will do. The first woman's Facebook rants were pretty bad.

I agree with not making a habit of it. The tricky thing is that these two have clearly been colluding as her choice of words mirrors exactly what the other woman wrote, so I have been very careful with what I've been replying.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
No, of course. It is impossible to tell at this stage. But there isn't really a basis for presuming that she will.
You do have to be careful. Actually to this type of enquiry I wouldn't respond at all. It is a question that presumes guilt to which she doesn't want an answer anyway really. It is just sent for the purposes of reproaching you.
Also, I find ignoring people very useful because you can't be criticised as you have not been rude or unprofessional and it annoys them more than a response would. Silence is surprisingly powerful especially when dealing with a person who sadly spends her days on Mumsnet.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I was just about to send this, but maybe she is trying to goad me with the careful coaching of her friend. It's doubtful this woman could do it on her own:

Lisa,

"I thought Jade cared about the children???"
"I just understand how you can punish a 8 year old who loves coming because the amount of classes he does is not enough can you explain???"

These are both fallacious statements as you well know.

You made the decision to not accept any of the other classes. How exactly is Jade punishing Toby? She has had to make changes to scheduling which you are not happy with. You were given alternatives which you didn't want. I think you need to go back and read the emails from yesterday where I explained very clearly about the competition classes. Did you read the new terms and conditions and enrolment documents?

I spent the day yesterday, very patiently, even though all of the up to date information had already been posted on the Facebook page, and waited until 7pm to help you to choose what class you could move T**y to since you aren't able to commit to the competition crew. You then emailed at 7:30pm when we were having dinner, demanding a phone call.

Every other parent paid and accepted the terms without issue, even where they had to make difficult choices about what classes their children participated in.

I am not prepared to spend any more time discussing this.

Please do not send any further communication to either myself or Jade or anyone related to us, via email, letter, SMS, voice mail, or any other medium, nor repeat these unfounded comments to others.

Paul

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Well, it is a matter for you ultimately but I wouldn't get involved in this.
However brilliantly you argue, she is not going to agree. She is not going to see the light and realise that she is being unreasonable.
All responding is doing is wasting your time and giving her attention.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

We just feel so helpless where we haven't responded or retaliated to either of them. My wife has even been to the doctors with chest pains and been prescribed medication. She told Jade that if the levels of stress continue she could develop angina worse.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Oh yes, silence is a very difficult response to maintain. The natural human reaction is to respond to ridiculous allegations.
It doesn't mean it is helping though and actually it can only provoke further responses which just increases stress levels.
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