Jan. 25, 2018

Olexiy Kharytonov on how to protect your honor, dignity and business reputation

Has a colleague insulted you? Can this be considered an abuse of your honor, dignity and business reputation, and should you sue that colleague? Is this freedom of speech or an insult to your dignity? Should you involve law enforcement in these situations? Ukrainians are still unaccustomed to seeking solutions for such problems in court. And the issue of immaterial assets (which include reputation) as a whole is often obscure to our countrymen.

Even developed countries do not yet have a clear understanding of the line between freedom of speech and disturbance of public order, between a person’s right to voice one’s opinion and the right of another to protect his honor and dignity. Nevertheless, there are international and national documents that successfully regulate these issues.

According to the experts of the European Court of Human Rights, in Europe the freedom of speaking one’s mind has become one of the main elements of a healthy society, a requisite for all-around personal development. In the United States, freedom of speech and press and the right to disagree with another person’s opinion are counted among the highest values.

On 18 January ILF partner Olexiy Kharytonov explained the issue of immaterial assets protection to law students of the Legal High School.

According to him, defamation cases in Ukraine (i.e. dissemination of misleading and slandering information) are becoming increasingly relevant and complex.This is due to societal changes, technological progress and dated national legislation regulating the new reality of information. Ukrainian legal space lacks definitions of such concepts as “web media”, “hosting provider”, “registrar”, etc. This creates problems when seeking access to information (web journalists can be denied accreditation, their rights are not protected by the law, etc.), and using web sources as evidence in court.

If you encounter information that could prove damaging to you or your business reputation and you decide to uphold your rights in court, Olexiy Kharytonov’s advice is to do your homework properly:

- gather documents proving the falsehood of disseminated information,

- have experts conduct a linguistic analysis that confirms that the information in question is damaging to you.

When you have all the evidence, it’s time to go to court.

However, as the expert suggests, you should first ask the party responsible for publishing false information to retract it. Presented with properly substantiated objections, journalists will often agree to remove false information.