Tip 68 – Defamation of Character – Personal Injury 21st September 2016

Tip 68 – Defamation of Character – Personal Injury 21st September 2016

September 23rd, 2016

We have raised this subject a couple of times previously and it struck me from a recent report that it was time that we addressed it again.

If you or your staff accuse a customer of taking/stealing something, paying with counterfeit money or other wrongdoing without positive proof or positive incriminating evidence then you/your insurer are wide open to a claim for defamation of character. This is treated by insurers, (unless otherwise stated), as a Personal Injury claim.

Such claims vary in terms of the amount of claim settlement but based upon our own figures I can tell you that the current average is €8,200. To arrive at this figure I have omitted a number of cases that were far more dramatic where the “accused” reacted in what one could describe as an angry manner and thus more than words were exchanged. The settlement in one case was over €50,000!

Remember the fundamental right to which everyone is entitled. Please remember –Innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof is with the accuser not the accused! How do you go about dealing with someone that you think is stealing?

In the first place any exchange of words must only take place out of earshot and preferably sight of others although you should have another staff member in attendance. If you want to approach someone you believe has stolen you must only do so when they have exited the shop.

In the second place be polite, friendly apologetic even! You might think that this sounds inappropriate but believe me when I say that this is crucial. “Did we overlook charging you for…?” “I think you might have inadvertently put …..in your pocket”

In the third place if you have any doubt – let the matter go!

Always remember – call us to discuss any/every incident. We will advise and guide you.

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