Internet libel - chatroom insults lead to Court victory

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  • Internet libel - chatroom insults lead to Court victory

    Warning for forum users from Times On Line:-

    Chat room insults lead to internet libel victory

    Wonder whether in the light of this case moderators should reconsider the point at which intervention may be appropriate.

    For example IMHO some of the posts on Charing rental twiceshould have been edited or deleted by a moderator. The initial reaction to posting this information there seemed to provoke the question of who was libelling who.

    Wonder if prompt moderation would mitigate any libel action or reduce damages if a libel case was won.

    Please keep this thread to discuss general principles and leave discussion concerning individual threads on the threads concerned.
    Vic - wicked landlord
    Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
    Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

  • #2
    Very interesting topic. Let's bear in mind that if matter is defamatory, it is actionable against the author wherever it is published - in a newspaper, on the television, or on the internet.
    However, what Wildlife has begun to explore here is the liability of the publisher. Someone who is defamed on the radio, for example, will automatically sue not only the person who made the defamatory statement, but also the BBC, because they published it (and they have more money to pay damages).
    There is some question about the extent of the liability of (say) the host of a message board, such as this one, and an ISP.
    Anyone who publishes a defamatory remark is liable, so in theory, a plaintiff could sue a newspaper, the wholesaler that sold the newspaper to a newsagent, and the newsagent himself. If I read the report then passed it to a friend, I could also be theoretically liable.
    A judge at Lincoln County Court held Friends Reunited to be liable when someone made defamatory remarks about a former teacher. However, a county court judgment is not binding on any other courts, so this has yet to be tested properly.
    It is worth noting that the judge held against Friends Reunited because, among other considerations, they did not remove the defamatory remark after the complainant had drawn it to their attention.
    I won't go into the liability of ISPs, because that's not at issue here.
    What I would suggest is that it would be common sense for remarks on this board that are clearly defamatory to be removed at the initiative of the person responsible for the board's publication, and that if anyone draws to his/her attention a remark that they consider to be defamatory, he errs on the side of caution.
    Do bear in mind that people from all over the world come to the UK to sue for damages for defamation because the legislation is so heavily weighted in favour of the person who is allegedly defamed.

    Comment


    • #3
      Well, despite my requests, the bit about calling me a "Dodgy landlord" has not been removed nor the offender dealt with!

      Comment


      • #4
        Its an expensive game to play, there is an ongoing saga on uk.local.southwest between

        John Bunt (Claimant) and 1. David Tilley 2. Paul Hancox 3. Christopher Stevens 4. AOL UK Ltd 5. Tiscali UK Ltd 6. British Telecommunications plc (Defendants)

        John Bunt the LIP lost the first stages in the High Court 2 weeks ago and apparently owes costs of around £40,000.


        (allegedly)

        Comment


        • #5
          The ISPs had the claim against them struck out. General feeling amoungst the legal community is that he represented his case poorly.

          There is little doubt that he has a case against the authors.

          http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2006/407.html

          Having served cease and desist notices against ISPs, I can say that they do take these seriously. LandlordZone would be stupid to ignore such formal notification from David.

          Comment


          • #6
            I feel that it behoves all us posters to be alert to anyone less experienced who posts anything which could be considered libellous and notify our respected editor and moderator, Tom Entwhistle as soon as possible. I don't think anyone here who has learned so much from this board would like to see Tom being obliged to close it down because of the legal costs that he may be exposed to because he is not vigilant enough to spot and remove libellous statements quickly enough to satisfy some litigious (and rich) person. Some boards insist on vetting all postings before they appear which does not aid healthy discussion. Some boards have a "report this post to a moderator" button to enable the board moderator to be quickly alerted to a post which may be unnacceptable - it would be nice to have that here. Nobody can expect Tom, who has a living to earn, to spend his days reading every post shortly after it is made - particularly as 99.999% are totally acceptable.

            P.P.
            Any information given in this post is based on my personal experience as a landlord, what I have learned from this and other boards and elsewhere. It is not to be relied on. Definitive advice is only available from a Solicitor or other appropriately qualified person.

            Comment


            • #7
              PP....hence a good reason perhaps to have more moderators?
              Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by P.Pilcher
                Some boards have a "report this post to a moderator" button to enable the board moderator to be quickly alerted to a post which may be unnacceptable - it would be nice to have that here.
                Hear, hear - I'm surprised there isn't.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I've had difficulty in finding a link to the forum rules. Guess I probably agreed to comply with certain rules on signing up but I cannot find a copy right now.

                  If all members are aware of or can check forum rules it is IMHO necessary to have a facilty whereby serious infringements of the rules can be reported promptly.

                  The worse option I have seen is on some boards where "trolls" have disrupted a serious thread and the moderators, instead of editing or removing the troll posts, have had to extinguish the consequent "flames" by closing or archiving what had started as a useful and helpful thread.

                  If posts are edited I think the moderator should where possible state briefly the reason for the edit. The computer of cause deletes some offensive words but some try to bypass these controls by words resembling the offensive words or inserting * between various letters of the offensive word.

                  Agree it is best to tighten up a little, not merely to thwart possible legal actions, but to ensure the forum remains a friendly source of unbiased information to both tenants and landlords.
                  Vic - wicked landlord
                  Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
                  Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thought it might be useful to pop this to the top again as we are discussing the need for moderation of the forum
                    Vic - wicked landlord
                    Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
                    Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thought it might be useful to pop this to the top again as we are discussing the need for moderation of the forum
                      good call worldlife

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Forum Abuse

                        Thanks for your comments on Internet Libel - yes we are aware of the risks hence our comprehensive terms of use policy. You do agree to these terms when you sign up to the FORUM, but in case you want to review these you will find them on the LandlordZONE site under "Terms" - see:
                        http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/site-zone/disclaimer.htm
                        By the way, we have now implemented a very powerful SEARCH facility which is much better than the one on the Forum - it covers Forum, Directory and the LandlordZONE web site either collectively or individually.
                        Seach on the LandlordZONE site - top of every page - "SEARCH Site" -
                        http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/zoom/search.php
                        The intention is to eventually have the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) instantly searchable (please be patient - this is a big job) and there will be a direct link to this Search facility from the FORUM soon.
                        Please bring offending posts to our attention (please be specific as to where they are) and we will remove them immediately. As has been said, we here are extremely busy and don't have the time to monitor the FORUM constantly - we do rely on our members to alter us to problem posts. Those posts mentioned above have been removed - hopefully the main offenders.
                        As for lible action, we don't intend to take chances, but for an action to stick the offender would need to indentify an individual - that's difficult were user names are the only means. In andditon, anyone contemplating a claim would need at lease £100k to play with - legal aid does not apply.
                        We do intend to operate a very strict policy on moderation and recent experience has shown the folly of leniency on this - it just gets out of hand.
                        Admin Asssistance/ Moderation Rights
                        If any of the established users are interested I would like to hear from you. Please contact me. Editor.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I have been reluctant to follow this very, very encouraging post in which you explain the future plans for LandlordZONE. The work ahead could be quite daunting so thanks in advance to the team that will bring this to fruition.

                          Thanks also for the housecleaning following the invasion!

                          Hope that you have offers from more long standing and experienced members than myself for help as Admin or Moderators but certainly I would be pleased to assist the team , focussing initially on troll control and potentially abusive posting, if that would be useful.

                          I'm sure any volunteers would act conscientiously and fairly. Presumably individual Admins and Mods would covered by LandlordZONE insurance in respect of any alleged failures to act or respond in a satisfactory way to complaints or fulfilling clearly designated responsibilities

                          Agree with you that libel cases have in the past been restricted to the very wealthy because of the astronomical costs involved but now we have "No Win - No Fee" lawyers entering the fray.

                          For example see Boat owner scuppered by 'no win, no fee' case
                          Vic - wicked landlord
                          Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
                          Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thank you for ceasing the degeneration of the boards into spam wars recently Editor!

                            As a point of note, it may be of interest to members, in particular those involved in certain ugly confrontations with another member, to read this thread...in particular the last 2 pages:

                            http://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/for...howtopic=26743
                            Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Welcome back Mr Shed,

                              it didn't take rocket science to work out that the two rogue posters were one and the same.

                              As an aside, that was an interesting discussion being raised on the forum you highlighted before it descended into name calling. It would have prompted some interesting opinion on the BTL business, I have some strong views regarding Margaret Thatcher and the selling off of council properties, but that's another story.That is what a forum is all about discussion and debate.

                              However, this forum, IMHO is by far the most informative and useful to both LL's and tenants. The LL's and agents who form the backbone of the forum, are undoubtedly fair,honest and properly informed. There have been many posts made by worried tenants, and I have yet to read a response from anyone that views the situation totaly in favour of the LL.

                              Comment

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