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Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10976
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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In May 2014 my trade union published an email signed by all

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In May 2014 my trade union published an email signed by all representatives of my branch to 9000 members stating that a complaint I had made to the parent union that branch representatives had been involved in passing information on their members to our employer for the purposes of disciplinary action had 'no evidence' to support it even though this was untrue and evidence of exactly that had been supplied. Effectively union representatives called me a liar. I went sick then and never returned to work having been diagnosed with depression due to the harassment this caused. It led to friends of many years disowning me and my eventual resignation from work because I was too scared to return for fear of reprisals from other union members which included death threats. Last week in an Employment Tribunal against my now ex-employer it was clearly stated by the Company witnesses under oath and in the ET3 that indeed the union had given batches of files of dozens of union members online posts to the company, annotated and filed for exactly such a purpose. Dozens were called in and some were sanctioned. Do I have grounds for a defamation claim?
1. You most certainly do have good grounds for a defamation action given the facts. Essentially, in order to bring defamation proceedings you need to show that was was published about you - here the email - was false. However, once you show it is false, which you can given the evidence from the other union members, you do not have to show it was malicious. So here you will be able to claim damages for the sending of the email to all 9000 members. Damages can include the damage to yoru health caused by the email, including suing for the tort of harassment and the tort or civil wrong of malicious falsehood which is the uttering of words about someone knowing them to be false. So you can claim for the loss of your health and the need to go off sick owing to what happened. Damages can also include the loss of earnings when you were off work.
2. I would advise you to get yourself a solicitor who is experienced in the area of libel or defamation law. Solicitors tend to specialise in this area s it is quite complex. So you will need a specialist libel lawyer. Proceedings will be issued in the High Court as given the facts, damages will be substantial and you will need the assistance of a barrister. You can also arrange a no foal no fee arrangement with a specialist lawyer as costs will be high. However, specialist libel lawyers will be familiar with this type of arrangement.
3. Dear *****, additionally some form of pre action disclosure will be necessary in order to obtain the unions own correspondence with members surrounding the issue of the batches of files by the union. This is in order to provide the evidential basis for your claim.
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