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You must be careful you do not defame your debtor.

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No matter how frustrated we get at the people who owe us money, when it comes to debt collection you must be careful you do not defame your debtor.

As you know being owed money comes with a myriad of emotions and the tendency to voice opinions about the person who owes you money.  Whilst I understand the obvious need to vent frustration it can come to the point where you may be defaming that person.

So what exactly is defaming a person?

Well you have defamed a person if you make statements about them that

  • Could lower the persons reputation in the eyes of ordinary members of the community
  • Leads people to ridicule avoid or despise the person
  • Injurer’s the person’s reputation in business, trade or profession

A defamatory statement can be verbal or written.  The statement must be published or made known to other persons other that the person being defamed. Defamation includes talking about that person in conversations to other people, writing about the person in articles, on websites, through email or other communication.

Even a private conversation in a pub or restaurant could be overheard and result in defamation proceedings.

To defame a person they must be living.

All parties to any publication as explained above that defames a person are liable for the defamation, not just the author. This means that if you receive an email or letter that includes defamatory information and forward or distribute it, you can be sued as well as the author.

Just remember, you never know where an email may end up. If you have defamed a person you may be liable for damages (money), however if you can prove the defamatory information is substantially true you can’t be liable.  Although in this case you may want to make sure your defense is watertight.

No matter what you must be careful you do not defame your debtor.

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