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On Protection of Honor, Dignity, and Business Standing of an Individual or a Legal Entity, Compensation for Moral Harm and Damages in the Event of Publishing of Unreliable and Defamatory Information.

      The issues of protection of the honor, dignity, and business standing are regulated in Russia by the following documents mentioned herein:

  •       the Constitution of RF, hereinafter - the Constitution;
  •       The Civil Code of the Russian Federation, hereinafter - the CC RF;
  •       the Law of RF On the Mass-Media dated 27 December 1991, # 2124-1, hereinafter - the Law on MM;
  •       the Resolution of the Plenary Meeting of the Supreme Court of RF dated 18.08.92, # 11 (the version of 25.04.95.) On Certain Questions Arisen in the Course of Consideration of Cases of Protection of Honor, Dignity, and Business Standing of Individuals and Legal Entities, hereinafter, - the Resolution of PMSC # 11;
  •       the Code of Civil Practice of RSFSR, hereinafter - the CCP RSFSR

          Pursuant to Article 23 of the Constitution everyone has the right of protection of his honor and good name.

          Pursuant to para 1, Art. 152 of the CC RF an individual is entitled to demand through court refutation of the information derogating his honor, dignity, and business standing, unless the person spreading the information proves that it represents the facts. Pursuant to para 7, Art. 152 of the CC RF the rules of the Article concerned relating to protection of the business standing of an individual are accordingly applicable to protection of the business standing of a legal entity.

          By virtue of para 5, Art. 152 of the CC RF the individual, in whose respect the information derogating his honor, dignity, or business standing has been spread, is entitled, along with refutation of such information, to claim for damages and compensation for the moral harm inflicted by such information. The amount of the compensation for the moral harm to be paid by a guilty official, individual, or mass medium is fixed in money in a judgment delivered by court.

          Pursuant to para 2, Art. 152 of the CC RF, damages mean expenses incurred or to be incurred by the individual whose right has been violated in order to restore such right; the loss of or damage to his property (real damage); as well as the income which has not been received, but which might have been received by the individual under ordinary circumstances of a business turnover had not his right been violated (missed profit).

          Pursuant to Article 62 of the Law on MM the moral (non-property) harm inflicted on an individual as a result of a mass-medium publication of the information which does not represent the facts or derogates his honor and dignity or inflicts on him any other non-property harm, is compensated according to the court judgment by the mass medium concerned, as well as by guilty officials and individuals in the amounts determined by the court.

          If the derogating information which does not represent the facts has been disseminated in the mass media, the court determining the rate of the moral harm compensation may also take into consideration the nature and contents of the publication, the extent of dissemination of unreliable information, and other circumstances warranting attention. The claim for the moral harm compensation may be filed separately if, for instance, the editorial staff of the mass medium has voluntarily published the refutation satisfying the claimant (para 11 of the Resolution of PMSC # 11).

          An individual or a legal entity, in whose respect the information derogating honor, dignity, and business standing (for a legal entity - business standing) has been disseminated, is entitled to undertake the following:

    a)      to claim through a court for refutation of the information (para 1, Art. 152 of the CC RF);
    b)      to exercise his/its right to publication of his response in the same mass media (para 3, Art. 152 of the CC RF; Art. 46 of the Law on MM;
    c)      to request from the editorial staff refutation of the information, which does not represent the facts and derogates his honor and dignity, in the same mass medium where the information has been disseminated. If the editorial staff has no proof that the information disseminated represents the facts, it must refute it in the same mass medium. If the individual or entity has presented the text of refutation, then this text is to be disseminated, unless it runs contrary to the requirements of the Law on MM (Art. 43 of the Law on MM).;
    d)      to exercise his/its right to claim for damages and compensation for moral harm inflicted by dissemination of the information concerned, along with refutation of such information (para 5, Art 152 of the CC RF).

          The Law does not provide for an obligatory preliminary address to the respondent with the demand for refutation, including in case when the claim is filed against a mass medium that has disseminated the above information (para 5 of the Resolution of PMSC # 11). However, the claimant may exercise his right and attain the expected results in the out-of-court manner. In the event the editorial staff refuses to satisfy the demands, a respective statement of action may be filed before a court.

          It follows from para 1, Art. 152 of the CC RF that in order to claim for refutation of the information, as well as for damages and moral harm compensation the following facts must concur:

  •       the fact of the information dissemination;
  •       the information must defame the honor, dignity, and business standing;
  •       the information must not represent the facts (there must be no proof that the information is true).
          Pursuant to para 2 of the Resolution of PMSC # 11 dissemination of the information defaming the honor and dignity of individuals or the business standing of individuals and legal entities also means publishing of such information in the press.

          According to the said paragraph defaming is the information which does not represent the facts, contains allegations that the individual or the entity concerned has violated the laws in force or the moral standards (has performed a dishonest act, and other information defaming the production and business, and public activities, the business standing, etc.), which derogates the honor and dignity of an individual or the business standing of an individual or a legal entity.

          The Russian court considers availability or absence of the defendants proof confirming the information published in the article to be a decisive factor for issuing an affirmative or negative judgment. That is, if the defendant has the proof of the published information, the action is dismissed.

          By virtue of Art. 152 of the CC RF it is the defendant who must prove that the information disseminated represents the facts.

          Pursuant to Art. 49 of the CCP RSFSR a civil evidence is any factual data on the basis of which the court establishes in the statutory manner availability or absence of the circumstances justifying the claims and arguments of the parties and other circumstances meaningful for a correct adjudication. These data are established by the following means: explanations of the opposing and third parties, testimony, documentary evidence, exhibits, and experts opinions. The evidence received in violation of the law is not valid and cannot constitute the basis for a judgment.

          Individuals and legal entities considering that the information disseminated about them does not represent the facts and is derogative are entitled to bring actions in cases of such category (para 4 of the Resolution of PMSC # 11). In order to institute legal proceedings the plaintiff has only to prove the fact of dissemination of the information which he considers to be defaming (para 7 of the Resolution of PMSC # 11).

          Para 6 of the Resolution of PMSC # 11 stipulates that respondents in actions seeking refutation of the information derogating the honor, dignity or business standing are the persons who have disseminated such information.

          If the action contains claims for refutation of the information disseminated in the mass media, the author or the editorial staff of a respective mass medium are sued as the respondents. If such information was published or disseminated otherwise, without indicating the authors name (e.g. in an editorial), the respondent in the proceedings is the editorial staff of a respective mass medium. In case the editorial staff of the mass medium is not a legal entity, the founder of the mass medium concerned is taken to court as the respondent.

          If one of the parties in a process is an individual (either the respondent - author of the article or the claimant), then, as follows from Article 25 of the CCP RSFSR, the dispute must be considered by a common court (a civil court).

          Pursuant to Art. 117 of the CCP RSFSR the action is brought before the court at the respondents place of residence. The action against a legal entity is brought before the court at the legal entitys registered address or property location. Pursuant to Art. 121 of the CCP RSFSR the action against several respondents residing or located in different places is brought at the place of residence or location of one of the respondents at the claimants option.

  • David E. Tiagai,
    Doctor of Law,
    General Director and partner

    Alexander E. Bessmertnykh,
    Doctor of Law,
    Chief expert, associate lawyer


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