What to Do if Your Business is Accused of Libel or Slander

Success for one tends to bring out jealousy in others. Jealousy may lead people or other businesses to make it their personal mission to take your company down. If false accusations are plaguing your business, or if one of your employees has made the mistake of making public statements about others that could be considered defamatory, your most effective defense will be positive PR, a good lawyer, and a New Jersey Business Insurance program that includes General Liability Insurance coverage.

Hire a Lawyer

If false accusations are made against your company, the first thing to do is hire a lawyer. If you already have a legal department in your business, you may be able to skip this step. It can be beneficial for you to seek out a lawyer that specializes, or at least has experience with defamation suits. Since court definitions of defamation can be difficult to prove, be ready to listen to your lawyer’s advice about how best to pursue a legal case. They should also help to determine if there is even a case to pursue.

If you have solid evidence to prove that the accusations against your business are false, your lawyer may advise you that pursuing a court case may benefit your business. However, consider how much time, effort and personal resources pursuing a defamation case will cost you.

Prove Libel or Slander

Libelous statements are written, while slanderous statements are spoken. It’s important to distinguish the two, because exact phrasing matters if you pursue a defamation suit in court. One thing your lawyer must determine is whether the court will regard your business as a public entity, or a private individual.

Proving that you’ve been defamed is a different experience if you’re a public entity versus a private individual. If your lawyer determines that your company can reasonably be construed as a private enterprise rather than a public one, proving a defamation suit will be much easier. In that case, you only have to prove that the person or business making false accusations against your company acted negligently.

Go for Positive PR

If your lawyer advises you that a court case is unlikely to be successful or profitable, consider fighting bad publicity with good publicity. For example, if a competitor states that your business only claimed to donate money to charity but didn’t actually do it, start a public fund-matching campaign involving a local charity.

Invite your customers to donate and announce your business will match every dollar your customers donate, up to a generous amount. Hold a public gathering to present the charity with its check, and be sure to invite the local press. This helps sway public opinion in your favor while staying civil with you detractors, which customers appreciate. People don’t like to see drama in professional places of business.

If the false accusations are so damaging that they could conceivably shut down your business, it’s probably worth fighting in court, not just with positive PR. General Liability insurance can truly help you get out of the slumps.


About Provident Protection Plus

At Provident Protection Plus, we have served the businesses and residents of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania for more than 65 years. We are a wholly owned subsidiary of Provident Bank, the region’s premier banking institution, and we are prepared to offer you personal, business, employee benefit, and risk management solutions. To learn more about our coverage options, contact our specialists today at (888) 990-0526.