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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71030
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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A UK acquaintance of mine is seeking to take legal action for

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A UK acquaintance of mine is seeking to take legal action for harassment on an open online forum. She has sometimes initiated sarcastic contact with the harasser by posting nasty comments about him herself. She has also effectively engaged in dialogue with him by responding to his postings by talking about him in the third person for everyone to see.His postings have been insulting and cruelly bantering but not obscene grossly offensive or menacing and not often false and she has responded in kind with wounding banter.
Will her actions contribute to his defence and can you give me legal authority for your answer? Thanks, John
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
If she is responding to him then his actions are not harassment. It just plain does not offend.
Harassment is made out when there are two or more acts of contact which the reasonable person would consider to be harassment. Responding to a person who is responding is not harassment. Harassment is simple enough - it arises when you make contact after being told to stop.
Her actions very definitely will contribute to his defence and she will end up paying his costs if things are as you say.
I wouldn't get involved in this. It is not your problem and it can lead to nothing but trouble.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you, I'm so grateful for your answer. Just slight clarifications. The argument has been made to me that she did not respond to him for a long time (months, years) but he did not stop and no action was taken by the forum owner or staff. She only responded when "driven to distraction". This is a political forum and he criticises her postings politically and insults her mildly. Could he argue that she could just have left? Also, if she responds to his postings but in the third person talking about him to other people where he and they can see it is that legally responding? Finally, can you give me any legal ground for "responding to a person who is responding is not harassment?" Thank you so much, John
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Does the long gap between his starting up and her starting to respond matter?
Yes, he could but a better argument is freedom of speech. This doesn't sound like harassment. Harassments are quite often a lot of nonsense. There is very little genuine harassment in the UK. However, this sounds like normal debate.
Yes, if she is responding then she is responding whether she does it in first person or third person.
There isn't really any other ground other than the harassment act. It just does not offend.
The gap may have been useful possibly but the problem is that she has started responding again.
Just out of interest, why has she got you involved in this?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
You have no idea how grateful I am for your answer.I gave her serious advice on line that I thought he had strong defences and that if she took action or legal advice then she should tell the advisor everything that had occurred. I have been roundly abused for being pessimistic and being on his side and accused of being in league with him to dissuade her from taking action. :(
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I don't mean from her but from lots of other people on the forum
Yes, don't get involved with this. What you are telling me doesn't surprise me at all.
Run for the hills. It will be your fault in some way. Getting involved with accusers always blows up in your face in the end.
You just leave her to it. Her problems are not yours. It is for her to sort out her disputes not for you.
She can take action if she likes. She will end up paying costs and I would tell him to consider an action against her.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I will close now. You have no idea how comforted I feel. Thank you. What do I do to close? J
Don't worry about people like this. Find yourself a sensible friend who doesn't want to sue all and sundry and make allegations of abuse to get the upper hand. It is too easy to do that and if you are male you are as vulnerable as anybody else. All very well that she is focusing on somebody else now but long term she might well turn on you. Accusers always do.
Please remember to rate my answer.
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