January 3, 2020

Brand & Crisis Management: How Can Defamation Law Help?

Defamation law can be widely applied to preserve and manage reputations of both people and businesses against baseless allegations. Particularly in the Digital Age with the extensive use of the internet along with social media, severe reputational damage to individuals and corporations can be created quite simply and quickly.

It is surely not the case that only celebrities can be affected by defamatory information. A ripple effect against the image of persons and organisations can cause great economic and personal impact by affecting their financial returns, amongst other things. Our firm preserves and manages reputations of people and businesses. We always have in mind the particularly demanding nature of our clients’ needs in both good and bad times.

In accordance with the Cyprus Civil Wrongs Law Cap. 148 as amended (“Law”), inter alia, defamation consists of the publication by any person by means of print, writing, painting, effigy, gestures, spoken words or other sounds, or by any other means whatsoever […] of any matter which:

  • imputes to any other person a crime;
  • imputes to any other person misconduct in any public office;
  • naturally tends to injure or prejudice the reputation of any other person in the way of his profession, trade, business, calling or office;
  • is likely to expose any other person to general hatred, contempt or ridicule; or
  • is likely to cause any other person to be shunned or avoided by other persons.

It is noted that for these purposes “crime” means any offence or other act punishable under any enactment in force in Cyprus and any act wheresoever committed, which, if committed in Cyprus, would be punishable there.

It is still important to distinguish between defamation made in writing (i.e. libel) and verbally (i.e. slander) given the different treatment thereof by the Cyprus Courts as regards potential damages and corresponding remedies.

With that said, it is not necessary for defamation that a defamatory meaning should be directly or completely expressed, and it suffices if such meaning, and its application to the person alleged to be defamed, can be collected either from the alleged defamatory statement itself or from any extrinsic circumstances, or partly by the one and partly by the other means.

Further, in accordance with the Law, inter alia, in an action for defamation it shall be a defence if:

  • the matter of which complaint was made was true;
  • the matter of which complaint was made was a fair comment on some matter of public interest;
  • the publication of the defamatory matter was privileged under sections 20 and 21 of the Law; or
  • the defamation was unintentional under section 22 of the Law.

It is noteworthy that the aforesaid defence of privilege can be further separated to ‘absolute’ and ‘qualified’ privilege. In the event that either are established, a claim in defamation may fail even if the words complained about are plainly defamatory and cannot be justified.

Subject to the relevant facts of case a claim may be filed or defended in Cyprus Court as appropriate. Alternatively, dispute resolution measures can be implemented in the interest of time and cost efficiency. We work on a wide range of national and multi-jurisdictional dispute resolution matters, and resolve our clients’ high-stake legal challenges wherever and whenever they may arise.

Finally, a Reputation and Crisis Management exercise may assist in implementing the requisite precautionary measures to mitigate any potential, irreparable damage to a person or business. Such project may entail the following:

  • Media Assessment and Management
  • Reputation and Crisis Analysis
  • Personnel Awareness
  • Decision-making Evaluation
  • Risk Assessment and Mitigation Measures
  • Branding

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require further information or support on such matters.

Copyright © 2020 K. A. Kourtellos & Co LLC
K. A. Kourtellos & Co LLC is regulated by the Cyprus Bar Association
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