Business Litigation FAQ: What is trade libel?

Business Lawyer Melbourne, FL

Running a business takes a great deal of work, organization, and effort. Success can stem from these things, but it will also depend on a good reputation. In fact reputation is considered to be one of the most important factors that helps to determine the success of a small to medium sized business. A negative comment or misleading review made by a customer or competitor can be devastating. When this happens, it might be possible to file a trade libel claim against a party who made such comments about your business. These claims are usually difficult to navigate and require the skillful expertise of a business litigation lawyer.

What is trade libel?

Trade libel is considered to fall underneath the category of defamation. It is considered to be a type of defamation and falsehood about the quality of a businesses products or services.

Understanding Defamation

Defamation is considered to be a kind of tort made when a person or company makes false claims or statements about another business that are damaging to their reputation. There are two types of defamation: libel and slander. In general any written defamatory statement is libel. Whereas anything verbally spoken is slander. Regardless of the type of defamation, for a successful claim, a lawyer must show:

  • An individual or company made a published statement (i.e. made to a third party);
  • The statement was false;
  • The statement caused harm to the plaintiff; and
  • The statement was was not categorized as privileged.

It should be noted that the alleged false statement must be factual and not an opinion. It also does not require the defendant to publish it in a newspaper or on a website, but rather can be a tort when they communicate the statement to a third party. Finally there must be actual proof that the business suffered a financial loss as a direct result of the false statement. Every states has their own defamation laws, and could require different elements from those listed above. You may consult a lawyer for further advice.

Possible Defenses Used in a Trade Libel Claim

United States business law encourages healthy competition. Any effort made to restrict this is unlawful. This makes it difficult to determine how much of a statement is competitive practice and how much is libel. It will be up to the plaintiff to show the burden of proof in that the defendant knew the statement was false and made it to gain an economic advantage. The defense might argue that the statements:

  • Were simply not made.
  • Were actually true.
  • Were not intentional.
  • Did not cause any losses.

If a defense can prove any of the above, the case could be dismissed.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

If you are certain that false statements have been made about your business and it has been financially impacted, you should contact a business lawyer Melbourne, FL trusts at the Law Offices of Acadier, Biggie & Wood . On the other hand, if you’re facing allegations of trade libel, you might also want to have a lawyer on your side. Regardless of your needs, a business lawyer is ready to help.