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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49773
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I work through my own limited company and I am working with

Customer Question

I work through my own limited company and I am working with a client I have worked with previously. My manager, Mark, is also an interim and we share the same business boss, Harry.
Mark has had an issue with me since I arrived, we discussed this and I was asked to decide if I could work with Mark. I considered it and agreed I would.
About two months ago Mark joked with me, in private and not in public, that the sales job Harry did about me made him wonder if we (Harry and I) were having an affair. I laughed this off as it was not public and had no impact on me or my reputation.
About three weeks ago a colleague of mine asked about this affair and let me know that Mark was saying this and joking about this with herself and other team members. I once again laughed it off although it had upset me that this was now a public joke involving many people, at least 5. I mentioned it to Harry as I believed he would want to know about this too. I then let it go again and left it in the hands of Harry.
Last night was asked again by this team at a Christmas night out about this affair with Harry, I was also asked by the head of department showing me that this rumour had spread to very influential and senior people. I went home after the even and called Harry to discuss.
The contract should run to March or longer and is worth £12k per month to my business. This is also having an impact on my reputation with the team mentioned above reducing future opportunities, in my game reputation and network is everything. I don't feel I can continue with the work and wondered if you could give me some advice. Do I have a case against this person and if so is it worth pursuing?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Ben Jones : Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Do you think the current contract could be terminated without your consent as a result?
JACUSTOMER-d0f65mjh- :

Perhaps, although I do not feel I can go on so it is more likely that I will want to terminate the contract. The situation has worsened, I have told my manager about what has happened and now Mark is telling people I am a liar, this has resulted in the break down of a valued relationship with the head of procurement, somebody I have worked with for many years. The risks to my reputation of staying and continuing to work with Mark are too great.

Ben Jones :

Good morning. If you were to consider pursuing this further then you are really looking at potential defamation action. Whilst this may appear to be a potential case of defamation (this includes libel if it is in written form, or slander if it is in oral form), such claims are extremely difficult to pursue. Many people are intent on suing for defamation without having any appreciation of the law behind them, so I will try and clear things up for you now.

First of all, certain conditions must be met for the statement to be classified as defamatory. These are:

1. The statement has to be untrue.

2. It must directly identify the complainant.

3. It must have been published, usually communicated to at least another person.

4. It must be in a form of words, which would tend to lower the claimant in the estimation of ‘right thinking members of society generally', expose the claimant to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or cause the claimant to be shunned or avoided.

5. Its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant.

Whilst it may be easy to prove that defamation has occurred, the legal process of pursuing such a claim is extremely complex and expensive. As this goes through the High Court, you would need the professional help of specialist defamation solicitors and the costs are undoubtedly going to run into the thousands right at the outset. Also there is no legal aid available for such claims so the complainant must fund these personally. So when you hear about defamation claims being made, these are usually pursued by big corporations or celebrities who have a public image to protect.

You must also consider whether the party alleged of making the defamatory statement can defend the claim. Even if you satisfy the criteria to prove the statement was defamatory it could be defended on a number of grounds, including by providing evidence that the statement was substantially true or an honest opinion. You must also consider whether they can afford to pay out any damages that they may be ordered to – are they in a financial position to do so and even if they are, they may still refuse to pay, meaning you then have to take enforcement action to try and order them to, adding further time and expenses.

There is of course nothing stopping you from contacting the other party and threatening them that what they have done amounts to defamation and that you will consider pursuing the matter further if they do not retract their statement. This could prompt them to reconsider their position, but I would not recommend that you actually proceed with a claim for defamation due to the issues highlighted above, it is far too risky.

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you

JACUSTOMER-d0f65mjh- :

Thanks it does. Although my situation does tick every box you mention I understand this is a costly and complex thing to attempt. Do you think a letter stating my discontent with what has happened perhaps asking for an apology would be worth pursuing.

JACUSTOMER-d0f65mjh- :

...just to let you know he is denying all claims so even an apology may be hard to get, I would however have a record on my company letterhead setting out what happened for my files for any future reference, my world is a small one and I would hate for this to impact on future opportunities?

Ben Jones :

You have nothing to lose by identifying this as potential defamation and asking for retraction of the statements and perhaps an apology. You could even threaten to take this further even if you have no intentions on doing so.

Ben Jones :

But unfortunately you cannot force him to do this and even by going ti court they cannot force an apology, only award damages

Ben Jones :

Hello, I see you have accessed and read my answer to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? I just need to know whether to close the question or not? Thanks