PDA

View Full Version : Legal action against Ppruners


yellowsubmarine
29th May 2008, 05:41
I am led to believe that there are some rather knowledgeable legal minds trawling the corridors of the Jet Blast forums. I am hoping that someone can clear up a query I have regarding liable action.

A good friend of mine and fellow Ppruner has received a strongly worded letter threating legal action regarding a post that he wrote on this website. I have not spoken to him in detail about what was written; however I am almost certain that the said post highlighted consistent over charging and potentially illegal charges incurred by students at a certain UK FTO.

I wont go into further detail as I have still have debts from my training and do not wish to befall the same fate. However I can confirm from personal experience that everything that he wrote is 100% accurate, however, he did mention the name of both the FTO and CFI and the thread was subsequently removed. My question is: where is the line drawn? What can one write? What is going too far?

Also by the fact that my friend received this threat I would have presumed that it was he and not Pprune in hot water. This poses another question; why do the powers that be deem it necessary to remove certain threads?

Any information on this issue is welcome.

YS

Howard Hughes
29th May 2008, 06:32
I am certainly no legal mind but my understanding is: If you are commenting on something that is already in the 'public domain' (ie: paper/TV), then it is OK to name names, otherwise be VERY VERY CAREFUL, or check with the mods first.

Cheers, HH.:ok:

Brian Abraham
29th May 2008, 06:57
My understanding. Depending on the rules of a particular country you may open yourself to charges of libel for information published on the net. If you want to name names you better be prepared to back up those claims with evidence in court. As HH says, check with the Mods if you ever have some thing you think may be contentious and seek guidance. Better safe than sorry and the Mods do remove posts in an effort to protect people from themselves.

merlinxx
29th May 2008, 07:35
Run the information & proof of said information via either a local or national written publication, once in the public domain, refer to that publication.

OR

Post the information, but from a public use URL such as a net cafe and not your own.

Both of the above have, and continue to be done with good results. I would suggest that the said FTO/CFI have something to hide, rather than publish a rebuttal.

weido_salt
29th May 2008, 07:47
yellowsubmarine


"some rather knowledgeable legal minds...." = Parasites.

Is it necessary to name names? I don't think so. You can hint, point people in the general direction or use innuendo, etc., etc..

D SQDRN 97th IOTC
29th May 2008, 07:51
Libel proceedings are ruinously expensive.

They are the preserve of the very wealthy, or those who feel they have been left with no resort but to fight an alleged defamation because they would be ruined by it otherwise.

There are some people that threaten proceedings hoping to either obtain a settlement from someone they can scare without ever having an intention to commence proceedings.

It is usually a defence to an allegation of defamation to say the materials were not false - i.e. they were accurate.

Blacksheep
29th May 2008, 07:52
In the case you mention it appears that your friend was a student of the organization in question. In that case it would be advisable to read the small print in the training contract, which is quite likely to include a non-disclosure clause.

In my own case I would dearly love to post certain information here in PPRuNe but, as with all that former employer's managers, one was obliged to sign an explicit non-disclosure agreement that remains binding even though I have retired. So I keep my mouth closed and only post stuff that is available in the public domain (even though such 'public' information may be obscure and hard to find :suspect:)

Beatriz Fontana
29th May 2008, 08:13
I used to be part of a team running a forum (completely different subject matter) a few years ago. Threats of legal action used to come through the letter box almost once a week from companies and other posters, mainly concerning allegations of libel.

If you make allegations of, say, fraudulent activity, exposing it publicly is a good tactic but ducks must be in the proverbial row. Any wording must be accurate and defendable. With this is mind, libelous material used to be deleted pretty sharpish until the facts could be ascertained. Opinions are more difficult. If an allegation is clearly in someone's opinion - and the posting states as much - then the opinion can stand but a lot of people don't like that and will still try to force a solicitor's letter upon you.

As regards who is legally in the rot if action goes ahead, both the poster and the host, i.e. forum site, will be answerable. So moderators have to be sharp on libel, offence, and taste and decency (my legal training is about three years old now so things may have changed).

However, a well worded disclaimer at the sign-up procedure can also cover you and the forum - most solicitors and certainly the complainant don't read them. So look again at the disclaimers.

Alluding to as opposed to a direct allegation is always much safer. If fraudulent activity really is going on, contact the consumer affairs editor of a media organisation (they will be hot on the legal stuff) or your local Trading Standards.

green granite
29th May 2008, 08:26
If what the person says is true and he can show that it is, then call their bluff. If not start eating humble pie and grovel immediately.

BRL
29th May 2008, 10:30
If you can provide 100% absolute proof that what you say is true and you provide your contact details for yourself then your post may be allowed to stay.

If not, your pissing in the wind. :)

There is a lot more to it than that but that is the general gist of it I think.

TwinAisle
29th May 2008, 11:19
Having had to go through this process from a complainant's point of view, perhaps the following will help people:

1. Publishing on the internet is rarely completely anonymous - assume that you will be tracked down, and act accordingly;
2. As BRL said, if you have proof that you can demonstrate to the mods, and which in their opinion (and that of their legal advisors) may well stand up in court, they may let it stay. BUT remember that under the law, PPRUNE acts as the publisher of the information, in the same way that a book publisher acts. And as a result of that, PPRUNE can be sued for defamation as well, something that Danny et al like to discourage;
3. The key argument will be - did the posting cause material damage to the reputation and/or business of the person claiming to have been defamed? In the case of someone saying "Flying School X is run by a load of crooks, they owe me £1k" or whatever, all the school will need to do is find someone prepared to swear that they were going to use that school until they read that, then they went somewhere else;
4. Despite what you may hear on the BBC, use of the word "allegedly" does not get you off the hook - repeating a defamation is also defamation, and renders the repeater open to a rude letter as well;
5. Remember that you cannot defame a business - only individuals - BUT they may act if it there business you have damaged as a result of defamation against them as individuals. In my example above, note it is the management being accused of being crooks. WierdoSalt, be careful about saying "don't name names but hint" - it can be the same thing, if a reasonable person would draw inference.

Bottom line - don't use PPRUNE - or any other forum - as a forum for settling what you should be settling in court, or via a tribunal. If you must do that, prepare for the consequences.

Say again s l o w l y
29th May 2008, 11:29
Since there has only been one court case in the UK due to defamation on the internet, the "threat" of legal action is usually just that and no more.

However, as a general rule as BRL has already mentioned, if you have proof and can back up any statements or claims you make, then off you go, but be prepared for people to react.

Solicitors letters are usually just bullying tactics and if you call their bluff, then 99% of the time they will go away. However that could still leave you in the 1% who end up in court!

VAFFPAX
29th May 2008, 11:40
Just because a forum is a public place does not mean one can post what one likes. Forum operators are to a degree responsible for what is being posted, certainly when approached about posts, and not doing anything about them.

In most other cases on forums, the poster is ultimately responsible for the posts. If the poster has proof that what (s)he said is true and is not libellous (and the poster cannot be held responsible for posts made by others), then that's a case for the courts.

A forum for mothers was nearly brought down by a certain TV personality after being slagged off (or so it was perceived) by certain forum posters. The forum administration took those posts down, but the TV personality in question continued with the lawsuit, claiming that they allowed the discussion to continue in the first place.

They settled in the end, but it was very expensive for the forum owners. Be careful what you post. It goes for anything.

S.

TwinAisle
29th May 2008, 11:43
there has only been one court case in the UK due to defamation on the internet

But how many settled out of court? Defamation is expensive for all sides concerned, and I know of quite a few cases that have been settled before barristers got involved.

Solicitors letters can indeed be instruments of bullying. But in many, many cases, they are not.

However that could still leave you in the 1% who end up in court

And as a result, potentially homeless and ruined. PPRUNERS should think twice before posting anything that they cannot substantiate.

Tricky Woo
29th May 2008, 11:51
Any truth in the story that Prince Philip was standing in the background wearing a Hitler Yoof hat during Max Mosely's hotel orgy romp?

One collects letters wot threaten legal action.

TW

p.s. Remember you heard it first right here on Uncle Danny's website.

weido_salt
29th May 2008, 12:24
I could not possibly comment. Or would I be possibly surprised.

Tricky Woo
29th May 2008, 12:27
I knew I'd smoke you out, Max Mosely.

TW

Andy Rylance
29th May 2008, 16:44
You can publish information as long as you can either refer to it on the web as published by the person themselves or you keep a copy of what was on their website.

i.e. if they had prices up on date 1 and they put prices up on date 2 and change the website you could quite legally say "on date 1 they published their prices as x" as long as you keep a copy of the document or website page as was on that date.

Ozzy
29th May 2008, 16:53
Remember, the truth is an absolute defence! One other thing, the person does not have to prove their innocence, the other party has to prove their guilt.

Ozzy

bekolblockage
29th May 2008, 16:59
"some rather knowledgeable legal minds...." = Parasites.


99% of lawyers give the rest of them a bad name.

airship
29th May 2008, 17:03
2. As BRL said, if you have proof that you can demonstrate to the mods, and which in their opinion (and that of their legal advisors) may well stand up in court, they may let it stay. BUT remember that under the law, PPRUNE acts as the publisher of the information, in the same way that a book publisher acts. And as a result of that, PPRUNE can be sued for defamation as well, something that Danny et al like to discourage... What TwinAisle wrote raises several issues:

1) Unlike say, usenet where most 'forums' are completely unmoderated (and as such, the 'hosts for these forums' eg. your ISP or other specialist usenet providers are not held responsible because they have no obvious control over postings to those forums), PPRuNe is a moderated forum and therefore cannot claim the same immunities. I think... :confused:

2) As soon as any forum requires 'signing-in' in order for someone to post a message, the people who operate the forum automatically assume a 'joint and several liability'. So I'm just guessing, but I reckon Danny never ever exposed himself to more than was necessary, that any liabilities that might ever arise were 'contained' by the structure of PPRuNe.

3) That shouldn't mean that if you ever posted something defamatory on PPRuNe, 'that just because the mods allowed your post to remain' and it was not immediately 'moderated' , you as the original poster has escaped all or any pursuit.

3) As everyone here should by now be aware, the entity known as 'airship' possesses few if not 'zero' assets. That is to say, he does not own his own residence, he rents, for a start. Some here might also be aware that 'airship' plays the Euromillions lotto. It would simply be a huge mistake for 'airship' to ever announce that he'd just won the jackpot. If only because that might unleash a huge campaign by lawyers acting on behalf of their purportedly-damaged clients, now that their aggressor was 'worth' pursuing...

For that reason, even if I should win the €15 million jackpot this Friday, don't expect any formal announcement here on my part. I can almost feel the breaths of all those lawyers on my neck already...?! :uhoh: :sad:

PS. Remember, the truth is an absolute defence! One other thing, the person does not have to prove their innocence, the other party has to prove their guilt. Oh really, are you absolutely 100% sure about that...?! If only that in most of the recent cases, the 'injured' party merely has to complain that they've been libelled or whatever. And it's upto you (as the accuser) to prove that you have a solid basis for such accusation (ie. the one being libelled or otherwise does not have to disprove the case... :rolleyes: := :eek:

Ozzy
29th May 2008, 17:09
Oh really, are you absolutely 100% sure about that...?! If only that in most of the recent cases, the 'injured' party merely has to complain that they've been libelled or whatever. And it's upto you (as the accuser) to prove that you have a solid basis for such accusation (ie. the one being libelled or otherwise does not have to disprove the case...

I am correct that the truth is an absolute defence. Are you saying that the defendant is guilty until proven innocent?

Ozzy

airship
29th May 2008, 17:30
I am correct that the truth is an absolute defence. Are you saying that the defendant is guilty until proven innocent? If you were the defendant (ie. the one who is accused of libel or defamation), yes, in many jurisdictions, I believe that you have to prove your case, the 'injured party' does not have to 'disprove your accusation'...?! The absolute truth is almost of no serious consequence...?! :confused: :uhoh:

PS. Where is a Flying Lawyer when you need one?! No worry, there'll be 3 along in the next few minutes... :ok:

TwinAisle
29th May 2008, 17:31
Not quite, Airship.

Let us assume that someone posted something about me, for example, that I thought materially affected my reputation, my business or my family. It does not matter at this stage whether what was written is true or not, I complain to a Mod. If the Mod removes this post, then any legal action I may take is unlikely to have much force against PPRUNE, since they acted as soon as they were notified. Any court would say that PPRUNE acted reasonably.

I start action, and my solicitor can require PPRUNE to disclose details of the poster. As I stated earlier, it is not 100% sure that PPRUNE can identify the poster, but the odds are pretty good - and who would want to take the risk? In court, the first proof falls to the defendant - they have to justify what they said. So, let's say I was accused of fraud, the person who accused me would have to justify that to the satisfaction of the court - as Ozzy said, I don't have to prove that I am not a fraudster.

If the case cannot be proved, I can then claim damages for the losses incurred as a result of the defamation, and the person who made the comment has to stump up for these damages, and other costs that the court sees fit to impose. That way can be ruinous. If the case IS proved, then I retreat back under a stone somewhere, and count the cost of the action.

If PPRUNE choose not to remove the offending post, then any action I take can also name PPRUNE as "the publisher of a defamation". If the court judges that PPRUNE did not act with reasonable speed, action can be taken against PPRUNE as well....

The issue of moderation is a red herring. ISPs - and others - have been cited in actions around the world as well, since they allowed the defamation to be published... and so it goes on. The parallel is in the printed word - if I was libelled in a book, it is possible under law to sue the whole chain - the author, the publisher, the distributor, Waterstones - you name it - if they fail to act reasonably swiftly.

I repeat - DON'T assume that the internet is anonymous - it is not.
DON'T use fora such as this in lieu of legal action, it is not some sort of cheaper legal aid service.
If you wouldn't say it in public to a stranger, don't type it on PPRUNE.

Davaar
29th May 2008, 17:56
Ah! We were certain to come to it. Here we have Essential Lesson # 1:

QUOTE
PS. Where is a Flying Lawyer when you need one?! No worry, there'll be 3 along in the next few minutes...
UNQUOTE

Sure! You bet! Pick any one of the three or of the other thousands in practice, so often dissed here as a class or profession. When the action is commenced against YOU, however substantive, however frivolous, YOU will need YOUR lawyer whom YOU will PAY.

airship
29th May 2008, 17:56
Well, maybe even Ozzy himself, I, or your own good self, interpreted Ozzy's initial response to my posting 180° incorrectly. Or perhaps it's merely anyone or everyone afterwards who misinterpreted anything that was posted after about 1800 GMT today? I don't know. I should seek legal advice before commenting any further. BTW, anyone here do pro bono work...?! :ok:

PS. With Davaar, I'd never know if he was really on my side even if I was forking out a lot of Canadian dollars (for his advice). He is his own man, that far I'm sure. :)

Davaar
29th May 2008, 18:01
............. and how soon reality intrudes!

Question:

QUOTE
BTW, anyone here do pro bono work...?!
UNQUOTE

Answer: On past evidence, there are many here who do pro bono work, but how many of them are lawyers, would you say?

Heh! Heh!

airship
29th May 2008, 18:22
I've just submitted my PPRuNe username (everyone knows that) in addition to my password to Davaar.

This is the last posting from airship that is truly from airship (unless amended or altered henceforth) by other persons in possession of my username and password.

To the best of my knowledge, only 2 persons (apart from PPRuNE.org itself) are aware of my current username and password. Davaar and I are now almost the same person. That is to say, he can pretend to be me, but I cannot pretend to be him.

Davaar is (or was) once a practising legal professional. It is now as much in his interest to ensure that my postings don't go 'overboard', that is to say, the risk is shared. I'm assuming that he will do this on a pro bono basis because I couldn't afford any other arrangement at present. However, should I win the €15 million €uroMillions lottery prize tomorrow evening, I would seriously consider paying for comprehensive legal cover and supervision. Something in the order of €10 per PPRuNe posting (and instant correction) would be quite acceptable in my humble opinion.

I fel free, well, almost free now...?! :(

Eboy
29th May 2008, 18:38
How does the FTO know your friend really made that post? Postings on PPRuNe are not authenticated with a digital signature or similar scheme by which the identity of the poster can be confirmed. PPRuNe probably records IP addresses of users, as do other forums, but IP addresses can be spoofed. Could have been those darn hackers.

TwinAisle
24th Jul 2008, 13:40
For all those who believe that they are anonymous and can post without fear of a knock on the door....

BBC NEWS | UK | Facebook libel case damages won (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7523128.stm)

:ok:

Ancient Observer
24th Jul 2008, 13:58
What's the best generic term for lawyers?

What do you call 10,000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?....



....a start

topendtorque
24th Jul 2008, 14:50
Interesting and very good question started this thread.

May I add to the original question by asking; What is the difference between the term, "without Prejudice" and the following phrase which is posted very clearly on every pprune page as you can clearly see?


As these are anonymous forums the origins of the contributions may be opposite to what may be apparent. In fact the press may use it, or the unscrupulous, or sciolists*, to elicit certain reactions.
*"sciolist"... Noun, archaic. "a person who pretends to be knowledgeable and well informed".


Errr, yer 'onor, i had no intention to predujice anything according to the rules what I read on the bottom of th' page, like.:ouch:

Perhaps "facebook', as an example, has no such caveat?

airship
24th Jul 2008, 15:34
I did notice that my most recent thread concerning Easy Group's (EasyJet) litigation/s over the use of their 'trademark rights' was removed forthwith. This is an aviation website run on a commercial basis and so it's entirely reasonable that the Easy Group may have 'a long-enough arm' to silence anyone that might arouse negative publicity concerning Easy Group affairs...?! :uhoh:

dazdaz
24th Jul 2008, 15:34
Yellowsubmarine

I note you are resident in Spain, does your good friend live outside the UK?

Might have some bearing on legal action if he/she does.

Daz

StaceyF
24th Jul 2008, 20:18
A good friend of mine and fellow Ppruner has received a strongly worded letter threating legal action regarding a post that he wrote on this website.

From whom did they obtain his name and address?

I have not spoken to him in detail about what was written; however I am almost certain that the said post highlighted consistent over charging and potentially illegal charges incurred by students at a certain UK FTO.

Also by the fact that my friend received this threat I would have presumed that it was he and not Pprune in hot water. This poses another question; why do the powers that be deem it necessary to remove certain threads?

Any information on this issue is welcome.

YS

In the first instance, the website hosting the comments receives a snotty "remove this item or else my client will sue you" type of letter (commonly referred to as a "take down demand").

If the "damaged" victim feels inclined to pursue it, they will demand that (in this case) PPrune provide them with the ip address of the perpetrator.

They then request the contact details from the owner of the ip address range ("who was using this ip address at this time on this day?")

The reason almost all internet libel cases fail is that nobody can say who was sat at a keyboard typing the offending words at any specific time.

Am I typing these words? Or is my partner? What about someone who has hacked my wireless connection?

brickhistory
24th Jul 2008, 21:01
I did notice that my most recent thread concerning Easy Group's (EasyJet) litigation/s over the use of their 'trademark rights' was removed forthwith. This is an aviation website run on a commercial basis and so it's entirely reasonable that the Easy Group may have 'a long-enough arm' to silence anyone that might arouse negative publicity concerning Easy Group affairs...?!

Or conversely, perhaps it was removed as it was rambling, nonsensical, and completely inane and resembled, at best, a public service example of PWI?






posting while intoxicated

selfloadingcargo
24th Jul 2008, 21:15
....c'mon brick, don't sit on the fence - tell us what you really think...:)

green granite
24th Jul 2008, 21:24
The use of an "anonymous proxy" and an alias title springs to mind if you want to post something that might be libellous. :ok:

vapilot2004
25th Jul 2008, 07:41
The absolute truth is almost of no serious consequence...?!

Well that figures.

mixture
25th Jul 2008, 08:50
TwinAisle

Remember that you cannot defame a business

Have you heard about Tiscali and BT ? :cool:

I'm no legal genius, but as far as I know, for a statement to be defamatory it must have reference to the recipient, irrespective of whether they are a person corporate or unincorporate.

mixture
25th Jul 2008, 09:07
topendtorque,

May I add to the original question by asking; What is the difference between the term, "without Prejudice" and the following phrase which is posted very clearly on every pprune page as you can clearly see?

Erm, a lot ?

"Without Prejudice" ... in plain English, and in a very over-simplified definition .... allows you to save money on lawyers and have a quiet chat with the people threatening to sue you in order to see if you can settle a legal claim without admitting liability. Entering into communications on a "without prejudice" basis means that if they still insist on court proceedings, they cannot use your discussions in evidence without your permission.

The statement on the bottom of PPrune is just saying what it says...."caveat emptor". :cool:

topendtorque
25th Jul 2008, 14:55
caveat emptor

That would be looser again, would it not?
A total loser so to speak.

mixture
25th Jul 2008, 15:47
Well, some might say that someone who believes what they read on PPrune in relation to certain subject matters is "A total loser so to speak."

But it would, of course, be inappropriate to comment on such matters, or make suggestions one way or another, particularly given the nature of this thread. This post in no way suggests anything about any one individual, group of individuals or otherwise..... :ok:

There is lots of great advice on PPRune ... but also, as they say, "on the internet, nobody knows if you're a dog" ..... and it is, regrettably, quite common to find "trolls" on forums, posting negative things about competitor companies etc.

topendtorque
26th Jul 2008, 07:38
like that , thanks mixture.

mixture
26th Jul 2008, 09:52
Pleasure.

http://www.integratedveterinarysolutions.com/dog_computer_photo.jpg

:)

Happy flying. Have a good weekend.

Pinky the pilot
26th Jul 2008, 12:20
Speaking of Lawyers.....

What do you have when there are 100 Lawyers buried up to their necks in sand on a beach?

and

What is the difference between a Lawyer and a European Carp?*






*An introduced noxious species of fish in the Murray/Darling river system of Australia

speedrestriction
28th Jul 2008, 00:18
Eboy,

I believe in civil cases the case only has to be proven on the balance of probabilities unlike criminal cases where it must be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

sr