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Defamation is the publication of a false statement that causes you to be harmed in some way. Whether the statement is published in the paper, on the Internet, or is merely spoken to another, it has the power to harm you. You can take action by consulting with a lawyer. But what does that entail? And, if you decide to pursue a lawsuit, what will the process be like?
When you first meet with your attorney, be as thorough as possible. Bring a copy of the statement (if written). If it was made online, bring a printout of the page and the comments, if any, that follow. Make a list of people your attorney should talk to who may have information that would make them helpful witnesses. Provide their contact information if you have it.
Also, if you are seeking monetary reimbursement, bring documentation such as accounting or bank statements -- anything that shows that you have lost money. If you have been terminated from a job as a result of defamation, get a copy of your personnel file and bring it with you. Make sure to bring anything that might be relevant to your attorney. He or she can tell you if some of the material is unnecessary, but it is better to be over-prepared than not prepared enough.
Finally, be honest. You need to be able to trust your attorney, and vice versa. You need to provide him or her with all of the relevant facts, even the ones you think may be harmful to your case. That sort of information will eventually come out anyway, and it is better for your lawyer to know about it upfront and decide how to handle it than to be caught off guard later. Most importantly, your attorney needs to be able to give you the best advice possible -- and, to do that, he or she needs to have as much information as possible.
First Steps in a Defamation Lawsuit
File the Complaint
Once you've met with your attorney and he or she has done some initial investigation, a Complaint will be filed. This is the document that initiates the lawsuit. However, it is important to bear in mind that lawsuit like these moves more slowly than most people would like. Filing a lawsuit does not mean that all will be said and done in a couple of months. Sometimes it takes a year or more for a case to go to trial, if it is not settled. Settlement negotiations can also be ongoing over the life of a case.
Service and Discovery
After a lawsuit is filed, the defendant has to be served and has a brief window of time in which to respond in writing. Then, the court issues a scheduling order, which gives all the important deadlines in a case. At that point, the process called "discovery" begins. Discovery is the formal investigation undertaken by both sides to a case. Each party will send the other (through attorneys) written questions called Interrogatories. These questions are answered under oath, and they help the opposing party find out more about you, your potential witnesses, and the facts of your case.
The other party probably will also ask you to produce documents that back up your claims. Your attorney will work with you to gather documents and answer questions. Sometimes there are reasons that you can withhold documents or decline to answer questions, and your attorney can advise you about that.
What About Settlement?
Once the discovery process is over, settlement negotiations typically begin in earnest. Attorneys think about settlement throughout the case, but the discovery process provides the information that most attorneys need to assess the likely outcome of the case (should it proceed through trial), and they can advise their clients about settlement, armed with this information.
Whether to settle a case out of court or go to trial is ultimately up to the client. However, it is important to consider your attorney's advice because he or she has enough experience to know how strong or weak your case is. For a variety of reasons, attorneys may advise settling even strong cases, depending on the situation. You may have a great deal of anxiety about trial, which can be stressful. There may be information you do not want publicized that may come out at trial. Another factor is that juries in some areas tend to give only small damages awards -- it is possible for a jury to find in your favor and still refuse to give you very much money, especially in a defamation case where quantifiable damages can be difficult to establish.
Many people are impatient and risk-averse, and would rather have something guaranteed now than face the risk of getting nothing at all in the future. These are all things to consider when you think about settlement. You should trust your attorney but, in the end, deciding whether to settle is up to you.
The Pitfalls of Defamation Litigation
Finally, it is important to consider the potential side effects of defamation litigation. While a lawsuit is definitely an option to redress a wrong, and you may succeed, media coverage of it may make the statement more widely publicized than it was before, compounding the harm. Even if the case settles, settlements are often confidential and the public may be left with the wrong impression about the outcome. These cases can also be costly. Unless your attorney takes the case on a contingent fee basis, gathering facts and finding experts can be very expensive.
By MR.KALYAN RAO PEDDI REDDI B.COM (HONS) IN COMPANY LAW & SECRETARIAL PRAC. & BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION & ECONOMICS, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT; LL.M (CONSITUTIONAL LAW of India), COMPARATIVE STUDY IN (U. S. American Constitution, Swiss Constitution, FRENCH CONSTITUTION & British Constitution),
C.E.O OF KALYAN LEGAL EXCEL CARE SERVICES ONLINE FOR CITIZENS & N.R.Is.
Former District & Sessions Judge, now lives at HYDERABAD, INDIA
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Information which is grossly harmful, harassing, blasphemous, defamatory, pedophilic, libelous, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically objectionable, disparaging, relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, pornographic, obscene or offensive content or otherwise unlawful in any manner whatever.
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Reviews, quotes or testimonials.
Solicitations for positive customer reviews.
Advertisements, promotional material, or watermarks on images, photos or videos.
Information which belongs to another person and to which the REGISTERED USER does not have any right to.
Information which infringes any patent, trademark, copyright or other proprietary rights.
Information which deceives or misleads the addressee about the origin of the messages or communicates any information which is grossly offensive or menacing in nature.
Information which threatens the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign states, or public order or causes incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence or prevents investigation of any offence or is insulting any other nation.
Information containing software viruses or any other computer code, files or programs designed to interrupt, destroy or limit the functionality of any computer resource.
Information violating any law for the time being in force.
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Do not include HTML, DHTML, Java, scripts or other types of executables in your detail pages.
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The use of e-mail intended to divert customers away from the SoOLEGAL.com Transactions process.
Unauthorised & improper "Names": A REGISTERED USER's Name (identifying the REGISTERED USER's entity on SoOLEGAL.com) must be a name that: accurately identifies the REGISTERED USER; is not misleading: and the REGISTERED USER has the right to use (that is, the name cannot include the trademark of, or otherwise infringe on, any trademark or other intellectual property right of any person). Furthermore, a REGISTERED USER cannot use a name that contains an e-mail suffix such as .com, .net, .biz, and so on.
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Inappropriate e-mail communications: All REGISTERED USER e-mail communications with buyers must be courteous, relevant and appropriate. Unsolicited e-mail communications with SoOLEGAL , e-mail communications other than as necessary and related customer service, and e-mails containing marketing communications of any kind (including within otherwise permitted communications) are prohibited.
Operating multiple REGISTERED USER accounts: Operating and maintaining multiple REGISTERED USER accounts is prohibited.
In your request, please provide an explanation of the legitimate business need for a second account.
Misuse of Search and Browse: When customers use SoOLEGAL's search engine and browse structure, they expect to find relevant and accurate results. To protect the customer experience, all Documents/ Advice-related information, including keywords and search terms, must comply with the guidelines provided under . Any attempt to manipulate the search and browse experience is prohibited.
of the ratings, feedback or Documents/ Advice reviews: REGISTERED
USERS cannot submit abusive or inappropriate feedback entries,
coerce or threaten buyers into submitting feedback, submit
transaction feedback regarding them, or include personal information
about a transaction partner within a feedback entry. Furthermore,
any attempt to manipulate ratings of any REGISTERED USER is
prohibited. Any attempt to manipulate ratings, feedback, or
Documents/ Advice reviews is prohibited.
are important to the SoOLEGAL Platform, providing a forum for
feedback about Documents/ Advice and service details and reviewers'
experiences with Documents/ Advices and services –
or negative. You may not write reviews for Documents/ Advices or
services that you have a financial interest in, including reviews
for Documents/ Advices or services that you or your competitors deal
with. Additionally, you may not provide compensation for a review
(including free or discounted Documents/ Advices). Review
solicitations that ask for only positive reviews or that offer
compensation are prohibited. You may not ask buyers to modify or
REGISTERED USERS are expected to conduct proper research to ensure that the items posted to our website are in compliance with all applicable laws. If we determine that the content of a Documents/ Advice detail page or listing is prohibited, potentially illegal, or inappropriate, we may remove or alter it without prior notice. SoOLEGAL reserves the right to make judgments about whether or not content is appropriate.
following list of prohibited Documents/ Advices comprises two
sections: Prohibited Content and Intellectual Property
Listing prohibited content may result in the cancellation of your listings, or the suspension or removal of your transacting privileges. REGISTERED USERS are responsible for ensuring that the Documents/ Advices they offer are legal and authorised for Transaction or re-Transaction.
If we determine that the content of a Documents/ Advice detail page or listing is prohibited, potentially illegal, or inappropriate, we may remove or alter it without prior notice. SoOLEGAL reserves the right to make judgments about whether or not content is appropriate.
Illegal and potentially illegal Documents/ Advices: Documents/ Advices sold on SoOLEGAL.in must adhere to all applicable laws. As REGISTERED USERS are legally liable for their actions and transactions, they must know the legal parameters surrounding any Documents/ Advice they display on our website.
Offensive material: SoOLEGAL reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of listings posted to our website.
Nudity: In general, images that portray nudity in a gratuitous or graphic manner are prohibited.
Items that infringe upon an individual's privacy. SoOLEGAL holds personal privacy in the highest regard. Therefore, items that infringe upon, or have potential to infringe upon, an individual's privacy are prohibited.
Intellectual Property Violations
Counterfeit merchandise: Documents/ Advices displayed on our website must be authentic. Any Documents/ Advice that has been illegally replicated, reproduced or manufactured is prohibited.
Books - Unauthorised copies of books are prohibited.
Movies - Unauthorised copies of movies in any format are prohibited. Unreleased/prereleased movies, screeners, trailers, unpublished and unauthorized film scripts (no ISBN number), electronic press kits, and unauthorised props are also prohibited.
Photos - Unauthorised copies of photos are prohibited.
Television Programs - Unauthorised copies of television Programs (including pay-per-view events), Programs never broadcast, unauthorised scripts, unauthorised props, and screeners are prohibited.
Transferred media. Media transferred from one format to another is prohibited. This includes but is not limited to: films converted from NTSC to Pal and Pal to NTSC, laserdisc to video, television to video, CD-ROM to cassette tape, from the Internet to any digital format, etc.
Promotional media: Promotional versions of media Documents/ Advices, including books (advance reading copies and uncorrected proofs), music, and videos (screeners) are prohibited. These Documents/ Advices are distributed for promotional consideration and generally are not authorized for Transaction.
Rights of Publicity: Celebrity images and/or the use of celebrity names cannot be used for commercial purposes without permission of a celebrity or their management. This includes Documents/ Advice endorsements and use of a celebrity's likeness on merchandise such as posters, mouse pads, clocks, image collections in digital format, and so on.
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