Letters: Decision to pursue blogs libel claims is complex

The government has announced a new internet style of feedback for doctors. This adds to the problems of adverse blogs that are already posted.

I suspect that very few people will be posting positive feedback. Satisfied patients will no doubt be too busy recovering from their ailments to say how good their GP was.

Postings such as: 'Dr X failed to treat my dad well and so he died' or: 'Dr Y couldn't spot the measles if it was right in front of him' will become common.

So what can you do? The answer is far from straightforward. As a lawyer, you might expect me to answer that you should just sue, but a one-size-fits-all solution is not appropriate here.

There are very significant issues that apply to the developing area of law known as 'reputation management'.

This is not just a question of whether the patient has the means to pay lawyers or to pay damages which might be less than the costs of bringing a libel case, but also a question of how the resultant case can affect you.

There are no right answers applicable to each case. Matters that have to be considered include: is there any truth in the allegation? Could my suing make matters worse? If I claim damages will I look greedy?

These tactical questions are compounded by the legal issues. Is the person who left feedback protected by the right to free speech or fair comment on a matter of public interest?

In order to decide, it is necessary to discuss the situation with a solicitor experienced in the area of reputation management. Mark Lewis, partner,

George Davies Solicitors, Manchester

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