LEGAL UPDATE: Defamation and Twitter

Judith Thompson

Defamation online is a growing problem and the established law can have difficulty finding creative solutions to modern problems. A Spanish case opens the door to ways of resolving online defamation disputes, which have not been seen before.

The Defendant in this Spanish case, Luis Pineda, tweeted about Rubén Sánchez, hundreds of times over two years, alleging that he was a corrupt fraudster. The judge found that the tweets were untrue and therefore defamatory. 

The judge said that Pineda had used Twitter to distribute “humiliating and insulting expressions and remarks” which had harmed the honour of his business rival.

Pineda was ordered to pay nearly £3,000 in damages, and to delete the defamatory tweets, which are the usual remedies you would expect in a successful defamation claim. However, in a very unusal departure from judicial orders, Pineda was also ordered to tweet the ruling every day for thirty days, at peak hours for Twitter use in Spain. The judge said Pineda must use TwitLonger or a blog so that the full judgment could be tweeted.

An order like this has never been made in a UK Court and, according to Judith Thompson, Partner at Samuels with specialisation in online defamation claims, it is unlikely to be under current rules.

However, Judith says: "The creative solutions to disputes which can come about through mediation, could well see this type of remedy being agreed between opponents who would otherwise need to take cases in front of a Judge. It could even serve as a deterrent to those who tweet defamatory material, if they see others having to post apologies repeatedly."  

Samuels is the only law firm in North Devon with particular expertise in this growing area. Our defamation clients come from all over the UK, and many from abroad.

Defamation is one of the few areas of law where old-style conditional (no win no fee) agreements are still available. At Samuels, we are committed to ensuring our clients have access to justice and we will always consider whether your defamation claim is suitable for a no win no fee arrangement at the very outset.

If you have been the victim of online defamation, on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media sites, contact us today for a free no obligation discussion about how we can help.