Can an adverse publication or broadcast be stopped?
It may sometimes be possible to stop or delay an adverse publication/broadcast (a publication), perhaps with an injunction, but it is very difficult legally and may not be wholly effective in practice.
With this in mind, consider whether any adverse publication could give rise to a legal claim by the company, for example for defamation, breach of confidence, infringement of intellectual property, breach of privacy or other human rights grounds. If such a claim is available, this might provide the basis for an injunction preventing or delaying publication. This is a highly complex issue legally, in most jurisdictions, as courts balance the interests in free speech and publicity against the corporate rights in question.
If you are considering seeking an injunction, bear the following points in mind:
- legal advice should be obtained immediately; speed is absolutely critical. It is not normally possible to obtain an injunction when news is leaking out, particularly through social media. It may be necessary to make a court application at very short notice and outside of working hours
- consider whether unfavourable publicity could result from an attempt to obtain an injunction – even if you succeed. If so, but you still want to proceed, you should prepare a media strategy to address such adverse coverage. This is particularly true where social media are concerned (where questions of enforceability can also arise)
- the party seeking an injunction will sometimes be asked to give an indemnity for any damages or costs suffered by the target (if the injunction is later overturned). In the UK, this is known as a ‘cross-undertaking in damages’ and the sums involved can be substantial
- alternatives to an injunction should be considered – these may include seeking a right of correction or reply, or making a complaint to a media regulator