The right to protection of reputation and good name
The right to protection of reputation and good name is part of the right to privacy. It is usually about claims that undermine the reputation of a person or company. Opposite to the protection of the reputation and good name of one person is the freedom of expression of another. Most lawsuits concern a television broadcast or an article in the media in which firm allegations are made.
Matters that we deal with include:
- Preventive prohibitions on publishing profiles about people or companies in the press;
- The use of secret documents or documents by the press;
- Taking pictures with a hidden camera;
- Violations of journalists’ confidentiality of sources;
- The manner in which a publication has been made, including whether the principle of hearing both sides of the argument is sufficiently applied;
- Calculation of damages for violations of reputation and good name.
For our clients we also assess the content of high-risk broadcasts, articles and books prior to broadcast or publication. Thanks to our experience, we can quickly analyze and advise on risks, even when it concerns a book. Violations of reputation and good name are often called defamation or slander. These names relate to criminal offenses. Most procedures concerning the right to protection of reputation and good name are dealt with under civil law. Reports to the police about insult, defamation or slander rarely lead to criminal prosecution. The protection of reputation and good name is rooted in Dutch case law in the doctrine of the unlawful act (article 6: 162 Dutch Civil Code), but also in the protection of privacy on the basis of art. 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and art. 7 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The second paragraph of art. 10 ECHR refers to the “protection of the reputation” of others as a ground for restricting freedom of expression. When using (moving) images of the person concerned, the portrait right based on art. 21 of the Dutch Copyright Act is also relevant. We act both for the press media and for victims of press releases. This type of court case involves the protection of two high-quality interests. The importance of the press to be able to publicly criticize, inform, opinion and warn about abuses affecting society in relation to the importance of not being lightly exposed to press charges that detract from reputation and good name. Because we know and control the arguments on both sides of the coin well, we can quickly estimate the chance of a case succeeding. We work on the one hand for news and magazine editions, for broadcasters, producers and the written press. On the other hand, we work for directors of listed companies, well-known Dutch public figures and victims of naming and shaming. We advise companies and individuals who are the subject of critical publications how to deal with this. Is it wise to litigate or does the Dutch adage “whoever is shaved should sit still” apply? We know how to deal with requests for rebuttals from journalists. We edit press releases and provide training for interviews. In addition, we know how to remove hyperlinks from Google’s search index, in other words, how Google can forget you. Litigation about the protection of reputation and good name is a branch of law in itself. These are cases in which you often come to court in the very short term. Often someone wants to prevent a publication or broadcast. That means that sometimes the case will be dealt with on the same day. There is no time to delve into jurisprudence, it is all about ready knowledge. In the Netherlands, a limited number of lawyers specialize in this area. Lawyers who do not master the case law and the special proceedings are beaten by their specialized colleagues. The protection of reputation and good name is in safe hands with us. We have many years of litigation experience in this area of law, both offensive and defensive. Our team of specialists is closely involved in the legal development in this field because of the large number of publications and lectures that they provide on this subject. We are often asked by the media to comment on ongoing lawsuits. In the authoritative guides Chambers and Legal500, the Brandeis team is praised for its expertise in the protection of reputation and good name.