Libel, slander and rectification by a lawyer in The Netherlands
Every day companies and individuals are accused in newspaper and on social media of all sorts of crimes, like fraud. This can easily lead to ruined reputations. If these accusations are false, the victim can start litigation. But even when a public communication holds the truth, the defamer runs the risk of being subpoenaed in civil court or even prosecuted. Thomas van Vugt, Dutch lawyer specialized in libel law, explains how to deal with defamation.
Types of defamation in The Netherlands
Defamation is the communication of a false statement that harms the honour and reputation of someone else. In this publicly made statement someone is accused of behavior or crimes without any ground. Also public disclosure of private facts, which are of no public concern, can be unlawful. If a defamatory claim is made in written (by press or on internet) this is called libel. If it is done orally, we call this slander.
Defamation: wrongful communication?
Criticizing people is allowed, even if the criticism is quite harsh. This falls under the freedom of speech, which is legally enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Dutch constitution. But this freedom is not unlimited. Statements are not allowed to be unlawful. Whether this is the case, depends on the circumstances of each individual case. The judge has to balance the freedom of speech on one hand and the right of protection of honour and reputation on the other hand.
Statement must be supported by facts
According to the Dutch Supreme Court, in order to resolve a libel case, one must assess if and in what extent the alleged libel was backed up by facts and sources at the time of publication. If a judge finds the allegation to be unlawful, the defendant is liable for the damages. Further, a claimant can demand a rectification.
Libel lawyer in the Netherlands
Besides civil wrong, the statement can also constitute a criminal offense. You need to press charges, though, for the public prosecution to investigate the case. The libel lawyer of AMS can assist you in both civil and criminal cases against defamation by demanding an injunction or rectification in court or claiming damages. Feel free to contact our law firm if you have any questions.