Dignity and Reputation Protection
Protection of reputation of public persons
Applying to the court for dignity protection is widespread among public persons, mainly politicians and civil servants in Ukraine. Jurvneshservice lawyers participated in more than ten disputes of that kind. Jurvneshservice represented Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president’s interests during his political activities in Ukraine during 2015-2017, in conflicts with some top officers, namely Arsen Avakov, Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, and Roman Nasirov, former Head of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine.
The team consisting of Gennadii Tsirat, Dmytro Salatiuk, and Kateryna Tsirat built Mr. Saakashvili’s defense strategy based on principles developed by the Ukrainian court practice and practice of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The particularity of cases of dignity and reputation protection is that in such disputes, the two fundamental freedoms – the right to respect the private life and freedom of expression – are always “in natural conflict”. Politicians, well-known businessmen, and officials are often “exposed” to painful and insulting criticism on the part of media, colleagues, and generally the society. So they instinctively desire to protect their right name in court immediately, especially if mentioned statements are spread on the eve of elections or during some political scandals where public persons became a target of sharp criticism.
Public persons – plaintiffs in matters on dignity protection should bear in mind that they have little chance to win a dispute against journalists as journalistic freedom covers possible recourse to a certain degree of exaggeration, or even provocation. That in practice means that journalists have “carte blanche” for sharp sayings. Value-judgments (e. g., “dull,” “corrupt politician”) are not susceptible to proof and, consequently, cannot be subject to refutation. Therefore, application to a court to receive public apologies from journalists in case of criticism in the form of emotional statements (“immoral politician”) is a wild goose chase. Only false factual statements can be refuted, and their falseness must be proved. The most challenging task is to show that a criticism or dissemination of specific, often private, or confidential information was directed against a particular person, to defame that particular person for a precise, not for public benefit, purpose.
Business reputation of companies
The business reputation, or goodwill, is a company’s unique intangible asset, its appraisal by society, consumers, followers, and the business community. A “name” built up during the years may be destroyed overnight due to unsuccessful advertising or discovery and the emergence of specific either true or false facts about the company.
Business reputation defense
In comparison with individuals, companies do not tend to be engaged in disputes on business reputation protection. Often company’s reputation infringement may be connected with unfair competition, dissemination of confidential information about the company, violation of intellectual property rights. That is particularly relevant to businesses operating via a franchising model.
The main task in such litigation is to prove losses caused by the dissemination of false information and the fact that another company or person spoiling the business reputation receives some commercial benefits.
Unfair competition may be manifested by the unlawful use of another company’s name, trademark, products, or services, leading to confusion or even identification with the name of the competitor. Dissemination of false, misleading, or uncertain information concerning the competitor is another example of unfair competition. The competitor’s slandering in different forms, including advertising through plots blackening the competitor, is forbidden by competition law. Unfair competition is possible only among similar businesses.
In this context, it is essential to pay attention that comparative advertising is permitted in Ukraine, but still under the requirement to highlight the competitor’s products somewhat without misinforming or defrauding of consumers.
Infringement of the companies’ business reputation may entail not only refutation of inaccurate information, or termination of slandering of the company’s name, but also civil, administrative, and even criminal liability.
That is why the best way for a claimant to reimburse all the losses is to prove the law’s infringement on protection against unfair competition and intellectual property rights.
The protection of the company in such cases may include either application to the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine or a court passing the procedure in the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine.
Jurvneshservice lawyers are familiar with modern judicial practice in such cases. They will offer an optimal strategy of “attack” – in case of the claimant – or vice versa – “defense” – in case of the defendant.
Dmitry Salatiuk – Dmitry’s main areas of professional activity are litigation, bankruptcy, and support of enforcement proceedings. Knowledge of the intricacies of procedural legislation, determination, enterprise, and willingness to act outside the box has always been the key to the successful completion of a client’s task.
Kateryna Tsirat – Ph.D. in Law. Her specialization includes economic disputes, arbitration, enforcement of judgments and arbitral awards, as well as protecting the reputation of enterprises and the honor of individuals.
- Tsіrat K. G. Protection of honesty, integrity, and business reputation. Features evidence in court // Legal newspaper [Topic: “Contract Law”]. No. 39 (641). 25 spring 2018. S. 28-30.
- Dmytro Salatiuk, Kateryna Tsirat. Dignity and Reputation Protection // Ukrainian Law Firms 2018.