Online defamation can have very harmful effects on your life. The power of the Internet means that information can be spread much more quickly and have far reaching personal and professional consequences. If someone is defaming you online, there are three options which might be open to pursue. These options are aimed at stopping individuals from continuing to post damaging information about you online.
The first option, although very difficult to obtain, is called an Anton Piller order. This remedy allows the court to seize the computer of the other person, so that they cannot continue to post online. However, courts are reticent to order the seizure of another person’s property, as the other party is not given notice and therefore cannot defend themselves in court. Therefore, generally, courts only award an Anton Piller order if the applicant can prove a number of different factors. Given the difficulty of proving the many factors, successfully obtaining an Anton Piller is unlikely.
A second option is to apply to the court for an interlocutory injunction. If granted, this order would prohibit someone from posting defamatory material online. To successfully apply for an interlocutory injunction, the court must be convinced, among other factors, that the applicant will suffer irreparable harm from the defamatory material published online. If a court has granted an interlocutory injunction against the individual and they continue to post online, then the applicant can apply for a contempt order for breaking the court order.
Third, it is also possible to apply for a permanent injunction against the individual posting defamatory material online. Courts have used this injunction to order individuals to permanently remove defamatory material from websites. By ordering the removal of the offending articles, the court has attempted to mitigate the damage caused by the defamatory articles.
The granting of one of these prohibitive orders might not the end of the road. It may be possible to argue that the individual posting defamatory material online should pay damages.