When someone publishes or threatens to publish information that could harm your reputation, what can you do about it?
The topic of interdict applications was placed in the spotlight this week after a well-known South African businessman took a media company to court.
Entrepreneur Arnoux Maré and his businesses Innovative Solutions Group (ISG), Innovative Staffing Solutions (ISS) wanted the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to interdict Lowveld Media, part of the Caxton Local Media group, from publishing information showing Maré, ISG and ISS in a bad light.
His application was dismissed with costs. The proceedings featured some interesting remarks about the media’s right to freedom of expression as presented by Advocate Claire Avidon.
She referred to the seminal case of National Media Limited v Bogoshi, in which the Supreme Court of Appeal acknowledged the media’s right to freedom of expression and its duty to “ferret out corruption, dishonesty and graft wherever it may occur and to expose the perpetrators.”
She argued that the media has the right – and responsibility – to inform South Africans on matters in the public interest.
What is information in the public interest? Various definitions exist. I like this one: information can be described as content that you need to know in order to make responsible decisions and function effectively in your community.
It was also pointed out in court that the applicants did not meet all the requirements for obtaining an urgent interdict. This will now be discussed in a social media context.
- If I want to obtain an interdict barring a social media user from publishing contents about me online, what must I prove?
Before an interdict can be granted, some requirements must be met:
- The applicant must prove that he has a clear legal right, such as the right to a good name and dignity.
- The applicant must prove that he/she will suffer irreparable harm if the interdict is not granted.
- On top of that, the court considers a balance – potential prejudice to the applicant if the interdict is refused against the respondent’s potential prejudice if it is granted.
- The applicant must also prove that no other remedy is available to him/her.
If an interdict is applied for on an urgent basis, urgency must be proved. What this entails will differ on a case-to-case basis. A court will not grant an urgent application if urgency was not sufficiently proven.
If you believe that your interests need protection, but cannot apply successfully for an interdict, you may also consider taking action in terms of the Protection from Harassment Act.
Source: Capricorn Review