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Reputation law

Your reputation is one of your most valuable and yet fragile assets and so needs to be carefully protected. Businesses can succeed or fail based purely on their reputation and any damage done to it can be devastating with far reaching consequences that can last for years. The new digital age with increased social media and the ability to connect with people instantaneously all around the world means that the threat to someones reputation is massively increased. Previously it was journalists that were seen as the threat- now it can be anyone, anywhere. Information travels around the world at the touch of a button and so the issue of reputational damage is far greater today than it ever has been. Attacks on a reputation can be done repeatedly from several online sources at the same time and to make the situation worse, can be anonymous. Information that is posted on the internet can be shared indefinitely, making it hard to permanently erase.

Prevention is better than cure

Understanding the potential risks or weak links in relation to protecting your reputation is something that you should consider before any threat or damage has even occurred. Performing thorough due diligence on your own reputation or that of your business can highlight the areas where you are most at risk.

For a business, ensure that all employment contracts are reviewed to determine that conduct expected of current employees as well as those that leave the firm. Review your governance structures to make sure that there are the correct processes in place to monitor issues from a strategic viewpoint.

Businesses should also make sure that they have effective mechanisms in place for both employees as well as customers and clients to be able to raise any concerns or complaints. If this can be handled internally then people are less likely to complain publically.  Build up effective relationships with your stakeholders. Where relevant, you should also try to maintain a positive relationship with the press and media.

A full review of your digital footprint is also very important in understanding how best you can protect your reputation:

  • Look at your social media platforms and review your image and what you are trying to portray. Remember your own actions on social media can set the tone for how others respond to you.
  • Determine where reviews or comments about yourself or your business can be posted and who has access to these. Are the comments moderated by anyone?
  • Consider other platforms where you may receive feedback and criticism and how any negative messaging can be mitigated.

Do not leave getting expert advice until the point that you have a problem. Connecting with our expert team of reputation lawyers means that you have the right people in place to advise you on how to protect your reputation as well as working to protect your interests if an issue does arise. Fast reactions are vital in these cases to minimise any damage – this can range from days or hours to mere minutes depending on the medium used. This is why it is really critical to have specialists in place in case you should need them.

It can be tempting to respond immediately to any negative information to rebut what has been said. Although this may be the best route, once it is done it cannot be undone and ultimately it could make matters worse. Instead you need to take expert legal advice from privacy and reputation experts that can guide you in the best approach to take in your particular case.


What is the importance of reputation management?

What are the effects of reputational damage?

Negative comments can damage a reputation, even if they are untrue. Defamatory statements, malicious reviews and unfounded rumours can all cause damage to a reputation that can also cause financial issues.

For a business, customer and client loyalty can be impacted, which in turn will affect revenue and profits. Connections and relationships with other businesses can be damaged. Employees can become concerned and this can affect staff turnover, which can further portray an issue within the organisation even if one does not actually exist.

In relation to an individual, various other factors can be affected by damage to their reputation. Relationships, both professional and personal, can be questioned and become strained. Employment prospects can also be impacted, such as issues relating to bonuses, promotion or even future employment offers.

How can you protect your reputation?

Legislative protection

There is legislation in place to deal with defamatory statements, which provides remedies such as costs, damages and injunctions as well as remedies to remove or correct the untrue statement. Confidentiality, privacy and defamation laws can all offer a degree of protection or resolution.

There is other legislation in place that may be relevant, such as:

  • The Data Protection Act 1998
  • The Defamation (Operators of Websites) Regulations 2013
  • The E-Commerce Regulations 2002

Regulatory protection

Businesses are also strictly regulated in relation to what they say or publish:

  • The press is regulated by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)
  • TV is regulated by Ofcom and the BBC also has its own guidance.

Where statements have been made that are damaging to reputation, these organisations can be contacted to remedy the problems that have been caused.

The information on this website is intended as a guide and does not constitute legal advice. Vardags do not accept liability for any errors in the information on this website, nor any losses stemming from reliance upon the statements made herein. All articles and pages aim to reflect the legal position at time they were published, and may have been rendered obsolete by subsequent developments in the law. Should you require specialist advice, tailored to your situation, please see how Vardags can help you.

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