It’s what the trainers in my gym are always saying and I know they’re right.  If you stick within your comfort zone, and don’t increase your weights, work harder, sweat more, you will never progress.

It’s also true in a legal sense.  For example, if you are in a traffic jam, and the car behind you moves forward too much and hits your car, there is no doubt that they are in the wrong and you have a claim against them.  However, if on inspecting your car, you find that there is no damage because the car behind was going very slowly and you have a very big solid car, then you’ve not suffered a loss.  This doesn’t mean you don’t have a claim, it just means that your claim has no value.

Whilst I’m sure that all makes perfect sense, I still struggle to get potential clients to understand it when applied to other areas of law.

Take, for example, defamation, which was once reserved for the rich and famous, but is now much more widely discussed by the general public, thanks to social media.  It’s much easier for people to be rude to each other.  It’s much easier for people to be aware that someone has been rude about them, so it’s much easier to be upset.  We’re also much more readily aware of the details of big celebrity cases, like the spat between Vardy and Rooney, and we want to be a part of it, but unless you can show that you’ve suffered an actual loss (which can be very hard for us lesser mortals) your claim will be as worthless as your car accident.

There is also the added problem that if whoever was rude about you genuinely believed that what they were saying was true, they are likely to have a great defence.  The court will need to balance your right to be protected verses the other person’s right to speak their mind.

I’m wondering how all of this will apply to the Nigel Farage/Coutts situation.  Firstly, if the person who produced the report describing him as a disingenuous grifter genuinely believed that he was (and all the other things they said about him) then Farage may struggle to bring a successful claim against them.  Even if it can be shown that they knew or should reasonably have known that it wasn’t true, Mr F still has to show that it’s damaged his reputation.  Those who didn’t like him before probably still don’t like him, and those who already liked him probably don’t think any less of him now.  In fact, arguably, his reputation may possibly have been slightly enhanced by this debacle, as people may feel sorry for him.  Either way, actually proving that he has been lowered in the minds of right thinking people (which is the actual test for defamation) could be his biggest challenge.

For us ordinary folk, my advice would be that other than possibly sending a cease and desist letter inviting the other party to agree not to repeat whatever it is they’ve said, and possibly retract it or delete it, there isn’t much point in spending thousands of pounds on a defamation case unless you can show real damage to your reputation.  Even if you are going to bring a claim, bear in mind the fact that the publicity surrounding a high profile court case can generate more knowledge of what you have been accused of than the original accusations themselves!  So you could do your reputation more harm than good!

Kleyman & Co Solicitors.  The full service law firm.  Only saying good things!