The World Wide Web and email have revolutionised the way in which we communicate with one another and go about our everyday lives. Unfortunately, these mediums can also be used by individuals to wage campaigns and pursue personal grudges. Online harassment can range from a sustained attack on an individual's personal or business reputation through to "cyberstalking" and "trolling". Whether such campaigns are advanced by disgruntled customers, former partners or colleagues they can cause the target (or targets) a considerable amount of distress. Such behaviour is often fuelled by the perpetrator’s misconceptions - that freedom of expression provides carte blanche for their behaviour and/or that the internet is beyond the reach of the law.
A campaign of harassment might be waged entirely online or it can also involve more traditional forms of harassment, such as stalking and/or unwanted correspondence, phonecalls and text messages.
At Brett Wilson LLP, we have a rare combination of skills and expertise in both civil and criminal law and have dealt with a number of leading online cases both in the civil courts and criminal courts. It is often the case that an individual subject to online harassment may have a number of claims open to them, including defamation and the misuse of private information. Likewise, the conduct in question may constitute a criminal offence under, amongst other legislation, the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and/or the Communications Act 2003.
What our Online Harassment Solicitors can do for you
Brett Wilson LLP has the specialist expertise to:
- Advise individuals and organisations on the various legal options open to them and the cost-benefit analysis of each route.
- Draft “cease and desist” letters to the perpetrators of harassment campaigns.
- Draft letters to publishers and hosting companies seeking the removal of offensive content.
- Make applications for interim injunctions where appropriate.
- Pursue claims for damages suffered as a result of harassment.
- Pursue additional claims for defamation, malicious falsehood, breach of privacy/misuse of private information and/or the breach of General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’)/Data Protection Act 2018.
- Instruct experts where appropriate to assist in identifying the authors of anonymous or pseudoanonymous material.
- Advise on the scope for making a Norwich Pharmacal application for the disclosure of information held by a third party relating to the authors of anonymous or pseudoanonymous material.
- Advise on the scope for bringing representative proceedings to protect a group (e.g. a company’s workforce) which is being harassed.
In The Law Society & Ors v Kordowski  EWHC 3185 (QB)Brett Wilson LLP was instructed by the Law Society to bring representative proceedings on behalf of the legal profession to close down the controversial website Solicitors from Hell. The judgment in the successful action provides important guidance on representative proceedings, online harassment and the applicability of data protection law to the publication of material on the internet. Read our summary of the judgment here.
Contact our Online Harassment Solicitors
We offer fixed-fee preliminary consultations. A consultation will help you understand the legal and practical issues relating to your case and allow you to make an informed decision about what action to take. These consultations are very popular and from the feedback we get clients find them very helpful. The cost of a consultation will depend on the factual and legal complexity of the matter and, in particular, how much paperwork you require us to consider ahead of the meeting. In many instances we offer fixed fee consultations, and the cost may be as low as £400 plus VAT.
Please note that we do not undertake civil litigation on a legal aid basis. Information on legal aid can be found at the Government’s benefits and credits website by clicking here.
Harassment is a criminal offence. If you believe that you are in immediate danger you should contact the police.