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Lessons Learnt in Failing to Effectively Mitigate Damages in Defamation Proceedings

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The case of Barron MP and another v Vines [2016] has shown that a defendant’s attempt to mitigate in defamation proceedings can be negated by their later conduct.

The case relates to comments made by a UKIP councillor that the claimants (two labour MPs) had been aware of the abuse of children in Rotherham but had let it continue nonetheless. Damages of £40,000 were awarded to each of the claimants.

Although the defendant had claimed to have made several apologies to the claimants, he subsequently persisted in attempting to justify much of what he had said in his evidence, which caused further distress to the claimants and hampered mitigation.

This action further questioned the core attributes - including integrity and professional reputation - of the claimant’s’ personalities - which are critical to members of parliament.

In our experience, there is a growing public and judicial desire to stamp out a culture of bullying and harassment, particularly through social media.

We have seen a sharp increase in instructions from individuals and companies regarding potential defamatory remarks made by former employees and/or customers on the internet, particularly comments that question the integrity and trustworthiness of our clients.

In these situations, it is better to deal with these matters as soon as possible, therefore limiting the potential harm to reputation.

If you require any advice in relation to the above, or any wider commercial litigation issue, please contact Andrew Broadbent on 0114 252 1416 or andrewbroadbent@hlwkeeblehawson.co.uk

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