Legal Updates

Portraying a person as one who evade debts is defamatory

November 3, 2020

A political party did not respect checks given to a supplier who prepared election signs for it. After failing to collect, including using legal proceedings, the supplier began a campaign against the person identified with the party by publishing that the Court held that he is to pay the debt and attributing to him, among other things, immoral acts involving abuse of associations and corporations to evade debts.
The Court held that the publication constitutes defamation. Presentation of a person as someone who does not honor his financial obligations, and in particular non-payment of debts decided in Court or the Verdict Execution Office, is deemed harming a person's good name and integrity, as well as his presentation as someone who is a needy person who is unable to pay his debts - and this is deemed "defamation". The review of whether the publication is defamatory is conducted under an objective test, and not pursuant to the advertiser's intention, and the question of how the person to whom the publication was made actually understood the publication is irrelevant, as the question is of what a reasonable person would attribute to the words. It is not necessary to show that a person was actually humiliated or disgraced and it is sufficient that the publication could have led to such a result. Even if the content of a text clarifies things it is sometimes sufficient that the title is defamatory. Here, the supplier approached the person associated with the political party during a lecture he gave and accused him in front dozens of people that he owed him a lot of money because checks he gave were not honored by the bank. In addition, the supplier staged a protest and printed signs in which he contended, inter alia, that even after winning in Court, the same person evades payment while still "riding a limousine" and hiding behind associations and companies. This, despite the fact that the proceedings were against the association - the political party - and not against the same person. Because the publications made presented the things as "facts", the supplier cannot use the defense of good faith publication of an opinion on a public official and he also does not meet the requirement of good faith because he did not take reasonable measures before the publication to find out whether he is publishing truth or not. Therefore, he was found liable to pay damages for defamation.