Club customers’ ‘name and shame’ are ‘arguable’: digital law expert

“Defamation can be arguable,” said Emma Sadleir, CEO of Digital Law Company.

Lester Kiewit spoke with Emma Sadleir, Founder and CEO of Digital Law Company.

A series of “most wanted” photos and captions by Cape Town’s Saint Champagne Bar & Lounge made waves on social media on Sunday. The popular nightclub has taken to various social media platforms, posting photos of customers who owe the establishment large sums of money.

They were posted after the club issued a warning, urging indebted customers to pay.

The feeling is divided on the question of whether the tactic of “naming and shaming” is the best way to resolve conflicts. Some wonder if this practice is legal.

According to digital law expert Emma Sadleir, “defamation can be defensible”.

FILE: Saint Champagne Bar & Lounge. Photo: Saint Champagne Bar & Lounge/Facebook

Sadleir said the Saint Lounge stunt meets the criteria for defamation but is not necessarily illegal.

Sure, there’s defamation here, but defamation isn’t always illegal…the point is, what you say is both true and in the public’s defense.

Emma Sadleir, Founder and CEO – Digital Law Company

The onus of proving whether what is said is both true and in the public interest rests with the person making the statement, she explained.

Allegations that describe any unethical or illegal behavior constitute information rendered for the public good, therefore, the establishment can be off the hook if it is able to prove that its statements are correct, Sadleir said.

The lawyer said that for the comments to be defamatory, they must be published to at least one other person, refer directly to a person and damage their reputation.

Scroll up to listen to the full audio above.

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