Corporate reputation management

Reputation Management Lawyers

A business’s reputation is central to its success. One defamatory comment or article online; one compliance issue or regulatory breach; one poorly conceived media strategy can have an immediate and significant impact and potentially result in long-lasting damage to your organisation. It is of paramount importance that the reputation of your business is protected, whether that is from the media or harmful material published by malicious competitors or disgruntled former employees. If your business’s reputation is put at risk, you need to instruct advisers who will take swift and decisive action to protect your most important asset.

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Make an enquiry Taking decisive action to protect your most important asset

Our reputation management lawyers work with a broad range of businesses to protect and defend their reputations. Whether you are looking to proactively review and manage your organisation’s reputation or need support in dealing with a reputational crisis, we can advise on all relevant aspects including defamation, breach of confidence, privacy, harassment, brand protection and data protection. We have the expertise to deal with libel issues and the removal or correction of damaging material in print and online.

We understand that a challenge to your business’s reputation can be extremely distressing and we will respond quickly to any threat, developing a tailored strategy to control the situation and limit the impact.

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Make an enquiry Defamation

Defamation law is full of grey areas and there is no single definition of what constitutes a defamatory statement. To find out more or speak to a defamation lawyer follow the link below.

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Make an enquiry Breach of Confidence

When you provide information in confidence, you trust that the information will remain private and not to be disclosed to others. Sadly, there have been many high-profile instances where banks, NHS Trusts, public agencies and employers have acted carelessly and disclosed information to people who had no right to receive it. The mishandling of information can cause considerable stress and, in some instances, reputational harm or financial loss.

If this has happened to you, we can help. Our expert team of reputation management solicitors can act quickly to obtain an injunction to prevent the disclosure of confidential information. If the breach has already occurred to the detriment of your business, we can help you pursue a claim for compensation.

What is breach of confidentiality?

Breach of confidence is a law that allows businesses or individuals to go to court to protect sensitive information. To make a claim, you must show that:

  • The information has the quality of confidence
  • It was shared in a situation where there was a duty of confidence
  • The information has been used in an unauthorised way i.e. it was misused or disclosed to an unauthorised person

 

As well as being confidential, the information must have some importance or value – the disclosure of trivial information will not usually give rise to a claim. The following situations would generally be regarded as sufficiently serious:

  • A former employee who steals the company’s customer supplier list and uses it at his new employer
  • A freelancer who accidentally shares confidential business information with the wrong client
  • A company that places an employee’s personal data, like bank details and home addresses, on a database that anyone can access

 

 

What are the remedies available for a breach of confidence action?

The usual remedy is damages for the harm caused to your reputation. These are notoriously difficult to quantify and usually require expert evidence to guide negotiations.

The losing party at court is also almost always ordered to pay the winning party’s legal costs.

Once the genie is out of the bottle, financial compensation may not be enough to protect the company’s interests. Therefore, we can also apply for an urgent injunction to ban the disclosure of confidential information where this has not happened yet but you believe it will.

The bottom line is that breaches of confidentiality can destroy business relationships and put the company’s reputation on the line. With some of London’s leading corporate reputation management lawyers, we can respond very quickly to threatened breaches of confidence, ensuring that mistakes are put right, confidential information remains confidential, and compensation is received for the damage caused.

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Make an enquiry Breach of Privacy

Our right to privacy is something we tend to take for granted, and we often feel violated and exposed when it is taken from us. Especially for public figures, corporations and brands, disclosure of private information can have serious repercussions such as reputational damage or financial loss.

If you have suffered an invasion of privacy due to someone mishandling your private information, you may be able to make a compensation claim. Our highly respected defamation and privacy team offers bespoke support that is designed to protect your privacy, or help you seek redress when it is breached.

What is a breach of privacy claim?

Privacy breaches may take place in all sorts of situations. Examples include:

  • The media publishing a ‘kiss and tell’ story
  • The disclosure of commercially sensitive information being leaked in public
  • The publication of private emails, memos or other correspondence
  • The theft of trade secrets

 

UK Privacy Laws

Personal and corporate information is often both private and confidential. As such, privacy claims are usually brought under the misuse of private information or breach of confidence rules.

There may also be a claim under data protection laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018, where personal data has been collected, stored or used inappropriately.

What is the difference between ‘private’ and ‘confidential’ information?

Confidential information essentially refers to secret information that has a quality of confidence about it. The information you share with a doctor, or that an employee shares with their employer, will usually be confidential information. The law of breach of confidence is well-established and you can read more about it here.

Private information is any information over which you have a realistic expectation of privacy. Unlike with defamation claims, the truth of the statement is generally not relevant. The sole issue is whether the information is private.

Often, the position will be obvious, for example, where the media publishes a salacious story about a public figure’s sex life. Sometimes it is not so obvious, or the publisher may claim that it is in the public interest for the private information to be disclosed. Legal assistance is essential to determine if you have a claim.

The information will need to be substantial in nature for there to be a breach of privacy claim. Where the information is technically private but bland or trivial, the Court may decide to strike the claim out.

How can Collyer Bristow help?

You need to act quickly with a breach of privacy claim. Where a breach is imminent, then our priority will be to prevent it from occurring. This may involve a legal ‘cease and desist’ notice or an urgent application for an injunction.

Where a breach of privacy has already taken place, we can pursue a claim for damages. Damages can be claimed for the loss of control over the private information, the distress and embarrassment suffered, and any financial losses suffered as a direct result of the breach.

In short, we will choose the best approach to maximise your prospects of success. Privacy law is complex, and we will always consider alternative options, including alternative dispute resolution and other courses of action such as crisis management and media strategy, to help you achieve the best outcome.

View our Media & Privacy page.

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Make an enquiry Brand Protection

There are many types of behaviours that can wipe out your brand’s goodwill and reputation, seemingly overnight. Decisive action is needed to ensure these hard-won attributes are protected. At Collyer Bristow, we can help you with brand protection claims relating to defamation, libel, passing off, breach of confidence, removal of fictitious reviews and more.

What is brand protection?

Brand protection is a combination of processes designed to make it as hard as possible for someone to infringe on a company’s intellectual property or damage their image and reputation. Threats can come in many forms, such as:

  • Imitation websites
  • Counterfeit logos and trademarks
  • Exploitation of image rights
  • Press intrusion
  • Disclosure of trade secrets
  • Ambush marketing tactics
  • Malicious statements made on social media
  • Defamation

 

These activities have far-reaching consequences in terms of falling sales, losing trust with customers, and reputational damage. What is more, the speed with which material can spread means it is essential that you take urgent steps to protect your reputation and respond decisively when it is under threat.

How can Collyer Bristow protect your brand reputation?

Whether you are a corporate, brand or individual, we will fight hard to protect your reputation and privacy. Our reputation management lawyers are among the most respected in their field. They work hand-in-hand with our intellectual property litigators to protect your brand from all angles, whatever the nature of the threat.

We’re known for our speed of response, which is absolutely essential when you are faced with an act that puts your brand at risk. Businesses of all sizes trust us to steer them through the entire lifecycle, from trademark registration to ensuring that company information is not leaked against your will. Whether through mediation, settlement or litigation, our experts will ensure your brand’s commercial value is not reduced in any way.

View our Intellectual Property page.

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Make an enquiry Data Protection

Our data protection solicitors can help you reduce the risk of reputation-damaging claims and investigations.

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Make an enquiry Libel

We act for both claimants and defendants in libel claims, bringing decades of experience to the table.

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Make an enquiry Removal or Correction of Online Material

Online information spreads like wildfire and research shows that people are much quicker to repeat something that’s wrong than something that’s true. While you can sue in libel for the damage caused to your reputation, a quicker and more practical approach is to have the offending material taken down.

What kind of material can be removed?

Just because the content is negative or unfavourable doesn’t mean that we can magically remove it – there must be a legal basis for the takedown. We generally can have the following types of content removed, either by applying for a court order or by using a Notice and Takedown mechanism:

  • Defamatory information
  • Threats, abuse and other malicious communications
  • Copyrighted content
  • Where the information is outdated, irrelevant, inaccurate or unlawful

 

How do you request the removal of information from Google?

You may have heard of a DMCA notice, which stands for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. This is a U.S. law that has no equivalent in the UK. However, the major platforms generally require the use of a DMCA notice as a way of getting copyrighted and defamatory content removed from search engines.

While serving a takedown notice is relatively straightforward, it is not always easy to prove that the offending material is actually defamatory. That’s because platform moderators are not in a position to judge whether the content meets the legal definition of defamation. It’s important to have a lawyer on your side to help you make your best case.

If done correctly, takedown notices can result in the offending material being removed from search engines in just a few hours or days.

What are the other methods for removing negative online content?

If the information is not technically defamatory but is still causing damage to your reputation, a different tactic may be required. All of the following strategies can accomplish your goals quickly, without the stress of litigation:

    • Reaching out to the author, website owner or ISP to request the content’s correction or removal
    • Making a polite editorial request to the publication
    • Invoking breach of the website’s terms of use
    • Promoting positive content over negative content with a well-formulated media strategy

 

The team at Collyer Bristow has a first-rate record of removing harmful material from the internet on behalf of our clients. Whether it’s a Tweet, news article or anonymous blog post, we can select the most effective route to getting the content removed, and fast.

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Make an enquiry Removal or Correction of Printed Material

Sloppy journalism can be ruinous to your company’s reputation. We have acted in many cases where newspapers have used the wrong names, images, facts, quotes or press releases, putting the business in a bad light.

Unfortunately, defamation claims against the media can be notoriously difficult to win. Publications, including scientific publications and conferences, have various defences at their disposal to protect the freedom of the press. What’s more, businesses can sue only if a statement caused, or was likely to cause, serious financial loss as well as damage to its reputation.

That doesn’t mean you have to take the falsehood on the chin. At Collyer Bristow, we can help you find other ways to limit the damage.

Can I get a public apology for the harm caused by printed material?

Newspapers and other publications regularly publish corrections as a way of putting things right when there has been a significant inaccuracy or distortion in their printed material. The ‘duty to correct’ is baked into the Editors’ Code of Practice. It applies to all newspapers and magazines that are regulated by the Independent Press Standards’ Organisation.

 

 

Sometimes, the publication will print a formal apology alongside the correction. This does not happen with every correction as the response generally will reflect the scale of the mistake.

An apology is more than a correction – it acknowledges publicly the harm that you have suffered, and it expresses contrition for causing that harm. An apology can go a long way to restoring any damage caused to the company’s reputation.

How can Collyer Bristow help?

If you spot a misleading statement or falsehood in any printed publication, we can negotiate:

  • An immediate correction
  • A full and frank apology
  • Undertakings not to republish
  • Compensation

This applies to all printed material, including articles, brochures, advertisements and conference publications.

If liability is denied, we can issue proceedings on your behalf seeking damages for libel or breach of privacy. We can also seek an injunction to stop a story from being published and legal costs. We have a stellar reputation in this area. You’ll have the best team fighting for you and maximising your chances of success.

 

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Make an enquiry Media strategy

Unwelcome media attention can hurt your reputation, invade your privacy and affect your business and the professional position of the people within it. If the media is getting intrusive, you need an expert strategy in place – fast.

What are the elements of a successful media strategy?

A media strategy is a granular strategy that breaks down, in detail, how you will successfully manage media attention and the reputational risks affecting you. There are various tools in the kit, including:

  • Negotiating with the media
  • Crisis management
  • Containment strategies
  • Swift removal or correction of material online
  • Publication of corrections and apologies
  • Legal action, such as a claim in libel
  • Applying for emergency injunctions when needed
  • Payment of damages and costs

 

 

 

Social media has added a new urgency to reputation management, as damaging posts can have an immediate and far-reaching impact. We are experts in dealing with online issues, including the swift removal of inaccurate material and successfully pursuing claims in defamation, breach of privacy and removing fictitious reviews.

How can Collyer Bristow help defend your good name?

Discretion and creativity are the keys to our approach. While we will always consider legal solutions to your issue, there are times when a public court case can create more problems than it solves. That’s why we look at your media strategy holistically, finding innovative ways to limit your exposure and securing other types of redress.

As respected leaders in the field of reputation management, we are known and recommended for providing sensible and measured advice to corporations, government agencies, celebrities and business leaders. We can help you control how your brand is perceived by others, set the record straight, and have the tools in place to react quickly and consistently in every case.

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Make an enquiry Crisis Management

When you’re right in the eye of a media storm, urgent action is essential. We are recognised for our swift (and reassuringly calm) handling in a crisis. Drawing on years of crisis management expertise, we can help you respond appropriately when a major problem hits.

What is media crisis management?

A media crisis is any incident that makes headlines around the country – or the world. These incidents vary in intensity from a simple misstatement that goes viral on social media, to a major event like a data breach. Either way, your company is now under scrutiny and the media may come calling. 

When faced with a media crisis, your reaction and response will determine how much impact the incident has. 

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Make an enquiry Removing Fictitious Reviews

It‘s hard to imagine why someone would want to write a fake review of your business, but it’s a growing problem. Over and above the reputational damage, fake reviews could give competitors an unfair advantage and leave you suffocated for cash. Collyer Bristow can help you get fictitious reviews removed with the minimum fuss.

What are fictitious reviews?

A fictitious review is one that misrepresents the relationship between the business and the reviewer, or describes an event that did not take place. Examples:

  • The review has been commissioned by a competitor to sabotage your brand
  • The reviewer is pretending to be a customer to harm your business
  • The reviewer is exaggerating events in the hopes of getting compensation like a discount
  • The reviewer is a disgruntled employee or former employee
  • The reviewer breaches platform guidelines or breaks a law; this could include defamation, personal attacks or hate speech

 

All of the major review platforms prohibit such behaviour and reporting it should result in the review being removed.

How do you remove fake online reviews?

Removing fictitious reviews is more challenging than it should be. Each platform has its own protocols, and there are protections in place to stop businesses from abusing the system by trying to get genuine negative feedback removed.

At Collyer Bristow, we have a well-polished system for spotting and removing fictitious reviews on just about any platform. Besides making the review disappear, we can support you by identifying the orchestrator and sending them a very clear message that their defamatory and unfair practices will not be tolerated.

If we are unsuccessful in pursuing a removal request, then we will see if there are grounds for bringing a claim for breach of contract, if the operator has not complied with its own terms and conditions for removing the fake review. You may be entitled to damages in certain instances if the review is clearly defamatory and the website owner has not done what they said they would do.

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