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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 18741
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I run a care agency, as we have an ongoing problem with one

Customer Question

I run a care agency, as we have an ongoing problem with one of the mums of one of the disabled adults. We have raise safeguarding/quality of care concerns against her, and in return, she is attempting to slander us to other parents, putting our business at risk. Is there any recourse?
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: UK - Kent
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: We have spoken to the individual, and asked her via email not to harrass staff, she refuses to meet with us and won't respond to calls or messages.
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: Only how difficult generally this individual is, and that we look after her disabled daughter, who has an independent advocate
Submitted: 13 days ago.
Category: Law
Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Worth mentioning that the individual was using access to our care planning parent's portal to gather information and raise fall complaints with our local authority - I responded to this as part of our complaint response after she queried her access being removed... Have attached response.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 13 days ago.

Welcome to Just Answer.

I will be happy to assist with your question today. I need some time to consider this and compose a response. There is NO need to wait online because you will get an email when I respond. Sometimes it will be minutes, sometimes longer.

I apologise for any unavoidable delay, but rest assured I have not forgotten your question.

do you wish to carry on caring for this person?

in what way is she harassing your staff?

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Hello, Yes. We are the only agency who can look after this person in the area. We are also concern that if an alternative agency is sought, they will not be rigorous in awareness of pre-existing safeguarding issues, or to stand up to the mother, who can bully and harrass to get her results. She will email complaints constantly, and threaten jobs and other agencies (ie CQC or Local Authority) if she doesn't get her way. She was verbally aggressive towards staff recently after reading a care note from a carer which raised concerns over a mark on their face. She is often rude to staff.Today, we overheard her making plans to meet with other parents so she can tell them all the problems and we're concerned she will be reporting to them the 'problems' that she has fabricated.
Customer: replied 13 days ago.
File attached (2SLP76S)
Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Have send complaint response as gives a good overview of problems over the last couple of weeks
Expert:  F E Smith replied 13 days ago.

Derogatory comments made to a 3rd party may be libellous and/or slanderous allegations. Slander is spo***** *****bel is written

A claimant has to prove that the words are defamatory, that the words would be understood to refer to the complainant by even one other person; and that the words have been published to a third party.

Comments made directly to a person about them to their face or a letter written to them, isn’t published or spoken  to a 3rd party so cannot be defamatory however bad or untrue it might be. It might be harassment however if it continues

A libel claimant does not have to prove that the words are false or to prove that he has in fact suffered any loss. Damage is presumed. A slander claimant will need to prove that the defamatory allegations caused actual damage, unless the slander is within certain categories.

There is no set definition of 'defamatory'. A statement may be considered to be defamatory if it tends to do any one of the following:

lower the claimant in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally;

disparage a claimant in his business, trade, office or profession;

expose the claimant to hatred, ridicule or contempt; or

cause the claimant to be shunned or avoided.

Of course fair opinion is not Libel or Slander. So, if I say that "In my opinion ABC is not as good an athlete as XYZ", that is not slander, it is an opinion.

Speaking/writing truth even if defamatory, is not slander/libel but the "offender" may have to prove it true , the recipient does not have to prove it untrue.

BUT a person cannot hide behind “In my opinion”,. So you can’t say “In my opinion he is a thief and a liar with 27 failed marriages behind him”. It must be fair opinion with some kind of basis for the opinion.

The claimant can get a solicitor to write (better coming from a solicitor) to the offender refuting these allegations and advising them that unless these allegation cease forthwith, (cease a desist)  and there is a retraction/apology you will make an application to court for an injunction preventing them making any such allegations in future. If they do make any they will be in contempt of court and liable to arrest. The solicitor should threaten to seek the costs of the court proceedings from them. They should also threaten to apply for damages in respect of tarnished reputation.

Let me tell you now that defamation claims are the preserve of the rich, famous, television and film personalities and footballers. They're very expensive and only dealt with by specialist lawyers. That's not to say that a snotty letter from your local solicitor will not have the desired effect and if the person simply ignores it you are faced with risking a lot of money.

There is a limitation period of 12 months from when the defamation occurs, after which time a defendant can raise limitation as a defence to have the claim thrown out.

If a complainant does not want to spend £lots, there is little one can do other than complain or write a solicitors really snotty letter threatening an application for an injunction and costs. BUT…

There is one final thing that can be done: Go to the Police and ask them to warn the person under the  Protection from Harassment Act.

This is harassment if there are allegations on 2 separate occasions and it is a criminal offence. Some Police forces dismiss this so you may need to be firm. If necessary, ask to speak to high ranking officer. If they still do nothing, make a formal complaint. Police are under a duty to stop you being harassed.

I would start with the solicitors “cease and desist” letter.

I don’t know whether getting rid of the daughter is an option although that may inflame the situation.  The mother is always at liberty to take her daughter somewhere else.

I am glad to help.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand.

I would be more than happy to clarify anything else for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

I am happy to answer any specific points arising from this.

Please be aware that my answer is based strictly upon the information you have given me.

If you still need any points clarifying, I will be happy to reply because the thread does not close. In fact, it remains open indefinitely.

I am always happy to answer any further questions you have on any new thread in which case, please start your question with, “ For FES only”.

That only applies to new threads, not this one. You have me exclusively on this one.

Thank you.

Best wishes.

FES

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Thanks - How would I go about getting a cease and desist letter
Expert:  F E Smith replied 13 days ago.

They are not going to take any notice of you so you would need to speak to any local solicitor.  Shop around for prices.  Some will want 500 quid upfront, others might do it for 100.  You need the power of the solicitors letter head   behind you.