AMS’s Dutch media law expertise
Every day, businesses and individuals are publicly accused of a variety of criminal acts, including fraud. Reputations can easily be ruined. AMS’s media lawyers have the know-how to quickly and effectively respond to unlawful publications on the internet and in newspapers. If a publication is unlawful, a lawyer can demand rectification and/or removal of that article in summary proceedings. In addition, there is an obligation to reimburse the victim for the damage caused. That damage may consist, for example, of reputational damage and, in the case of companies, lost turnover. It is also possible to lodge a complaint for slander, libel or defamation of character.
Dutch media law and our services
When is a statement unlawful?
Expressing criticism is permitted, even criticism of a very harsh nature. That falls under freedom of expression, which is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and the Constitution. But there are limits. Statements must not be unlawful. The question of whether a statement is unlawful needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis. In cases like these, the court weighs the right to free expression against the right to the protection of a party’s honour and good name.
Demanding rectification in interlocutory proceedings
If an accusation is unlawful, the aggrieved party can demand rectification in summary proceedings through a lawyer. The court will then examine whether there is sufficient support for the accusation in the evidence available at the time of the statement. There are many factors involved in demanding the appropriate rectification, certainly if the rectification is to take place on the internet. For example, the text itself needs to be carefully considered, but also the position where the rectification is to be placed and how long the rectification needs to remain in place. Matters such as the font and font size of the rectification also need to be considered.
Lodging a complaint for slander and defamation of character
Alongside the civil unlawfulness and the action you can take in that regard, a criminal act may also have been committed for which you can also lodge a complaint. This will primarily involve slander, libel or defamation of character.
- Slander (article 261 of the Dutch Penal Code) is deliberately harming (damaging) a person’s honour or good name by alleging a particular fact, with the manifest purpose of making it public.
- Libel is slander by means of distributed or published writings.
- Defamation of character is slander or libel involving information which the perpetrator knows to be in contravention of the truth.
Reputational damage: compensation
In law, anyone whose honour or good name has been harmed is entitled to compensation. This immaterial form of compensation is also known as damages. This applies in cases of reputational damage. The amount of the immaterial damage will need to be estimated and the court has great latitude in setting a figure. In practice, courts often follow the damages guide, which contains many examples of rulings on reputational damage and damages.
Revenge porn is considered to be photo and/or video material of a sexual nature placed on the internet without the permission of the person photographed or filmed. The question of whether the photo or video itself was made with permission does not matter.
Dutch media lawyer specialized in libel and slander
AMS lawyer Thomas van Vugt, one of the founders of AMS Advocaten, has an extensive experience with cases about unlawful publications on the internet and in newspapers, libel and slander and rectification. He has been involved in a number of high profile cases, such as the landmark case against Facebook.