News

Reputation management

It seems to be a real trend in the legal system: companies defending themselves before the Court against mudslinging on the Internet. Two recent examples.
Interlocutory Court of The Hague 13 September 2012 (Clazing/X)
For years, chicken slaughterhouse Clazing has been selling chickens that are slaughtered according to the Islamic halal method. X is a television maker, writer and columnist. In August, a council of Muslim clerics established that Clazing chicken was not halal. Shortly thereafter X placed a damning article on various websites about Clazing entitled “Clazing’s poison”. Briefly put, he accused Clazing of selling slaughterhouse waste as halal meat. He presented his accusations not as his opinion but as fact. Actual substantiation was lacking. The court weighed up X’s freedom of expression versus Clazing’s interest in a good reputation. X lost out. His expressions were unlawful, and he must rectify them.
Interlocutory Court of Alkmaar 5 July 2012 (Beter Wonen/X)
Housing Association Beter Wonen was accused by X, a former member of its Supervisory Board, of briefly put: fraud and a lack of supervision of the board. X placed a series of articles on his website with titles which always started with “Former Supervisory Directors have to bleed…”. After a demand X removed the articles but he then tweeted on 9 May: “Day 6 Blog locked/No way. Read more about the small housing association in NH where old supervisory directors bleed tomorrow”. His articles appeared on another website on 10 May. According to the Court, X’s accusations about Beter Wonen are not supported by facts. The Court imposed a remarkably wide ban: it prohibited X from going public with incorrect, damaging expressions that are not based on facts.
Daniël Haije

Print this article