The Internet has made a publisher of the man on the Clapham Omnibus and the rise of social media has opened up communication across the globe. Unfortunately, some people use these platforms as means of inciting unwanted, often circular, arguments, launching repeated baseless attacks and monitoring people’s activity without their consent.
Over the years we have helped thousands of public figures, HNWIs and professionals who have suffered from harassment. Our highly-regarded media and communications law department is unique because all our solicitors work exclusively in this field. This means that our clients receive the best possible advice and representation.
Those who behave abusively online are referred to as internet trolls, and examples of ‘trolling’ include: -
- Posting repeated ‘comments’ on message boards or news articles, attacking someone’s
character and/or invading their privacy, or designed to provoke argument
- Repeatedly sending abusive or otherwise upsetting Tweets
- ‘Following’ a person into online chatrooms or Facebook in order to interrupt conversations
and invade their privacy
Trolls sometimes labour under the misapprehension that they can say and do what they want online. Alternatively, they may take the view that they can get away with it (perhaps by disguising their identity).
Everyone has a right to enjoy what this world has to offer without fear of attack – and that extends to the World Wide Web. Under the law of England and Wales, any course of conduct (two or more incidents) designed to cause a person alarm or distress, or where the perpetrator ought to know that is the likely outcome, is harassment. It is a defence for the perpetrator to show that their conduct was reasonable, but with ‘trolling’ this will rarely be the case.
Harassment is a criminal offence contrary to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and punishable by up to six months’ imprisonment. Victims should consider whether they wish to make a report to the Police. Unfortunately, however, the Police are often overstretched and under-resourced, and online crime of this nature is sometimes not seen as a priority. In those circumstances you may want to take civil action against the person concerned.
Our trolling solicitors can help you by: –
- Writing a Letter of Claim, or ‘cease and desist’ letter, to the person responsible
- Issuing a Claim for harassment
- Securing an interim or post-Judgment injunction prohibiting the behaviour complained of
- Persuading third parties such as website operators or hosts to remove offending material
- Making representations (where appropriate) to the Police or Crown Prosecution Service
that an investigation or prosecution should be commenced
We may be able to help you even where the perpetrator is anonymous – see our page on Norwich Pharmacal Orders.
What to do if you are being trolled
- Do not engage with a troll or retaliate. The common mantra “do not feed the trolls” is good advice. If you do not take the bait, they may eventually lose interest. If you have already engaged with a troll then simply make it clear, on one occasion, that you want them to stop what they are doing. Do not get drawn into dialogue about this.
- Keep a record of the trolling. Print off relevant webpages ensuring they are dated.
- Consider making a complaint to the police. You should certainly do this if you believe you or anyone else is in danger.
- If the harassment is ongoing and you feel you need to take legal action contact us.
Why should I instruct Brett Wilson LLP?
Our work and client care is of the highest standard. All cases are run by a specialist harassment solicitor. Every matter has partner involvement.
We are well-known for our harassment work. We have long-standing working relationships with the best media law QCs and junior barristers, whom we can draft into the team to represent you in court if the need arises.
As well as being listed in the prestigious Legal 500 directory as a leading firm in the field of defamation law and privacy law, every solicitor in the media law department is recommended by the directory. Equally, the firm is ranked as a leading firm by Chambers & Partners for defamation and reputation management work, with Iain Wilson, Max Campbell and Tom Double individually recognised. Most importantly, we receive excellent feedback from our clients and contemporaries.
Litigation can be stressful, time consuming and costly. Therefore at the outset of your case we will conduct a cost benefit analysis with you. We will talk you through this process. We offer honest and pragmatic advice to our clients. We will always consider alternative options, including asserting other causes of action (such as defamation and privacy), approaching intermediaries or PR work.
How do I instruct Brett Wilson LLP?
The first step is to attend a preliminary consultation. At the consultation we will advise you on the merits of any claim, talk through the relevant practical and legal issues, and set out your options. We will review relevant documentation ahead of the consultation. The consultation will help you understand your position and allow you to make an informed decision about what action to take.
Consultations take place in our London offices or by Skype/telephone. We can also travel to you.
To request a consultation please send us an email, complete our online enquiry form or call us on 020 7183 8950. If emailing or using the online form, please provide a short outline of your situation.
Details of the cost of a consultation will be provided following your enquiry.
We regret that we are unable to review your case or provide advice prior to a consultation or without a retainer in place. We do not accept instructions on a contingency fee, damage-based agreement/DBA, conditional fee agreement (“no win, no fee”)/CFA or legal aid basis.