Our firm was recently engaged by a client after he was flanked by camera crews from a major television network . The current affairs program reporter was asking questions of our client that our client was largely perplexed about.
A very distressed client appeared at our office and we proceeded to correspond with the major television network in respect of the statements made and the unfortunate and harassing behaviour of the camera crews. Unsurprisingly, there was no attempt by the reporters to obtain a formal statement from our client in respect of any allegations.
After corresponding with the major television network, our firm’s demands had gone unanswered and after sometime, the major network eventually responded to our correspondence denying any liability and seeking to be completely dismissive. Accordingly, our firm was instructed to bring an application for an injunction in the Supreme Court of Queensland to restrain the publication of the footage obtained by the major television network.
Despite the Corporate Counsel for the television network advising that the story was incomplete, it proceeded to run the broadcast of the story despite the fact that an application for an injunction was on foot in the Supreme Court of Queensland.
Although the application was scheduled two days after the broadcast was run, the major television network displayed the broadcast on its website and on social media platform, Facebook. Within 24 hours, the broadcast story had over 1,000 “shares” on Facebook, and accordingly had raised a very significant amount of viewers by social media.
Given the insidious nature of the defamatory content, our client naturally instructed us to proceed with the application for the injunction in the Supreme Court but slightly amended the relief so as to restrain the major television network from publishing and/or broadcasting the story on its website and via social media. Our client, through material prepared in conjunction with our firm, demonstrated that the source of the story was incidentally and conveniently a competitor to our client’s business.
The Supreme Court of Queensland found in favour of our client and made comment that the “insidious” nature of the story being shared on social media coupled with the fact that the source of the story had not been checked or shown to be accurate. The Supreme Court also ordered that the major television network pay our client’s legal costs of and incidental to the application.
Defamatory content whether it be printed, television, broadcast or online can be damaging to both a business and/or an individual’s reputation. In this day and age, it is unquestionable that defamation by social media has such a far reaching scope and can be completely damaging to one’s reputation. Protecting one’s reputation is of paramount importance and with appropriate intervention, can be controlled.
In order to obtain an injunction (an order restraining a party from certain conduct) a court must be satisfied that damages are not a sufficient remedy. Given the damage to our client’s individual and professional reputation by the viral nature of social media sharing, the Court accepted the urgency of our client’s position and our client got the result he was after.
It goes to show, you can’t always believe what you see on TV… or the internet.