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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71050
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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On the 10th December 2013 I bought a property in a small private

Customer Question

On the 10th December 2013 I bought a property in a small private cul de sac with 9 other houses, unbeknown to me there is a problamatic neighbour who has slowly driven previous owners out of their property and within the last three weeks two other neighbours have left and a third are now putting their house on the market to sell. The majority of the owners are 65-82 years old, the problamatic neighbour is 38-40 and this has been going on for the last 13-14 years.

On the 26th April I had gone to work and the neighbour in question started to verbally abuse my wife and intimidate her. When I came home from work the neighbour in question came walking past me and mouthed the word c**t at me and then got into his car, drove slowly past me and I lost my temper, I opened the car door, grabbed him by the scruff of his jumper, he took his foot off the brakes, the car rolled forward, hit a fence, the fence fell over and hit a car, unbeknown to me the man in question had his video phone on all the way through the incident!

Police were called, the office was very nice, he explained that the neighbour in question is well known to the police because of other incidents concerning the other neighbours. I have since repaired the next door neighbours fence and car, the damage to the problamatic neighbours car is approx £200. The police want to deal with it with restorative justice or a caution to me. In the meantime the video that the man made has been put on youtube with the heading ( man attacked in marldon village, car smashed) I have spoken to youtube and because the case is ongoing, they are looking to put a stop on the video. What the problamatic neighbour has now done is to change the heading on the said video to (oldest car jacker in the world) I am hoping that this is a step too far that he has taken and that I ccan legally sue him for defamation of chartater or something similar.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

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

In order to give you an answer tailored to your circumstances, I will just need to ask you some preliminary questions so that I can consider your position from all angles.

Have you informed the police about the video?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

yes they say they are powerless get in touch with utube

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Are you asking whether thats a good idea? In the light of the fact that even on your own account you did assault him?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

hi ,, the question im asking is ,, he has now set up the same vido under the heading the oldest car jacker in the world ,, i didnot try to hijack his car ,he is tryig to intimidate and embarace me can i sue him for him saying the oldest car jacker etc

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 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.

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 here is that, although you did not try to hijack his car, you did assault him. You face a very real risk that a court would accept the defence of fair comment Im afraid.

A further 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.