View Full Version : If an "empty threat" is carried out

03-09-2009, 04:11 AM
Wasn't sure where'd be best to put this.... but I was just wondering as it may apply for me here soon (the client I've mentioned that doesn't like paying bills -- if he pays or not he does like putting up "notices" on his website about people he's upset with).

Basically it's a thing of let's say you have a customer/client. And everything's happy. Then she/he says "if you don't do what I want I'll tell everyone that you 'don't help people' (either something true, but missing really important facts that make it actually false overall -- or just outright false). It's an empty threat normally.....

But what if they actually do carry out with the "threat" if you don't cave in? Is there anything that can be done legally? Ex: would it be libel if it's partially true with important missing facts? And is it possible to post communications/etc that transpired (e-mails) between the parties as proof of what really happened as a counter-thing?

03-09-2009, 05:43 AM
I think that chances are good that the only reply to make to that is to say "Very well then. We're done. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go get my side of this dispute out. I think I'll start with a collection agency, and follow that up with a brand new site to submit to Google. Have a nice day."

As for libel, here's where you have to be really careful. Different jurisdictions deal with this in different ways. For instance, in the US, you have an absolute defense against accusations of libel and/or slander, and that's truth. If you did not lie, then you could not have libelled or slandered anyone.

In the UK, the standard is different. If memory serves (and I could be very wrong), libel/slander involves malicious intent, not truth or falsehood. So, for example, you could post sites about how your client is refusing to pay, and you could be successfully sued for libel.

And, are you ready for even more fun with this idea/tactic? Suing the bastard for defaming you could result in a net negative impact on you, regardless of whether or not he told the truth.

If the news gets wind of the story, it could wind up on page one of the local paper. Now everybody locally knows that someone is saying nasty things about you. When the case is finally settled and closed, that appears on page e-5, under the article about "make origami for your party and impress your friends!". No one reads that you won. Instead, all they remember is that John Smith said you were a lying cheating dirtbag, and no one knows that anybody said anything different.

I really hate to give this advice, but if you're genuinely worried about the threat, you need a lawyer. Your lawyer is the only one who can advise you how to handle it. If you handle it on your own, you could easily make things much worse for yourself.

As to why I hate to give that advice? Lawyers cost money. Some of them cost big money. And that's money you probably don't have.

03-09-2009, 07:13 AM
I think....

I was just replying to you in general :) Yeah... it's one of those really tricky things all around. I wouldn't even think of going to court over it or anything unless he decided to do something really bad.

Like he had me put up on his site that he refuses to do business with someone because he doesn't agree with his morals -- and then gives where he lives (general area) and business name, etc. On the surface (other than seeming a bid odd), it seems ok as there's nothing outright lieing on it (opinion only)....

Here's the story with some things changed, but just to give the overall gist (yeah, it's vague, it's intentional):
"bad morals" guy gave a product free of charge to my ex-client as the quality wasn't good.
"ex-client" said the quality was bad and demanded to be reimbursed for the product (remember it was free?)
"bad morals" guy basically said to fuck off and demanded the product back if he was going to ask for money too
"ex-client" 'disposed' of the product and demanded the money for a"perfectly functioning brand new" price of around two to five grand ("ex-client" was flexible)
"bad morals" guy refused because he found out he didn't dispose of it, he sold it (on his website).
"ex-client" demands that "bad morals" guy disclaimer is put on the website.

I'm just slightly worried he'd do something similar.... Given my current status for things (running for mayor), I'm keeping a profile so low only worms know what I'm doing as far as business stuff.

03-13-2009, 06:48 PM
The buy is publically airing his disputes on his business web site. That kind of behavior is incredibly unprofessional.

The most likely effect is that anyone who finds your ex-client's site will see how unprofessional he is and hesitate to do business with him. I know *I* wouldn't.

He's really hanging himself with his own rope. Let him.

03-13-2009, 11:37 PM
If you're running for Mayor, do whatever he wants. Last thing you need is bad publicity. It'll be more benefit in the long run to cut this client loose, write off the debt as uncollectible, and get on with everything else in life.

03-14-2009, 03:39 AM
If you're running for Mayor, do whatever he wants. Last thing you need is bad publicity. It'll be more benefit in the long run to cut this client loose, write off the debt as uncollectible, and get on with everything else in life.

Which is why I'll wait until after the election :)
After the election (winning or not), I might not even be able to collect payment anyway -- there's been talk in town recently (as in the past few weeks) to get certain things passed that if they were his business would be illegal to exist in town....... granted it'd affect others as well (as the products would be banned), but you get the point. Yeah it's a huge mess on multiple fronts :(

Plus with his business being "Not Good Standing" with the state (talking over 3 months late filing with the state).... I'm almost expecting him to skip town.