Legal Updates

A letter of complaint sent to irrelevant recipients may be deed defamation

July 20, 2021

A lawyer wrote a letter to the mayor and many other recipients in which he accused the city's legal counsel of corrupt conduct.

The Court accepted the claim and held that it was a defamation. Defamation entitles to statutory damages and if the publication was intentional, even double the damages, all if not defense under law exists. In order to be entitled for the defense in the case of a complaint to a competent authority, it must be shown, inter alia, that the publication was reasonable and made in good faith. Here, it was not a complaint to a competent authority (such as the police, in case of an alleged criminal offense) but the sending of a letter demanding the termination of employment of the city's legal counsel in which serious allegations of corruption were made and the letter was sent to various parties who are not in charge of the legal counsel and are not relevant at all for the purposes of inquiring the complaint and are therefore not considered a "competent authority". The lawyer even filed repeated complaints against the legal counsel with the Bar Association who were all dismissed. Therefore, not only was this a defamation that deviated from a reasonable spectrum but was a publication that was part of a deliberate intent to harm the city's legal counsel’s occupation and therefore the lawyer is to pay double compensation.