Publication of Photographs of Former Employees Is Not Defamatory: Court
Precedence has been set by the Civil High Court in Suva regarding publication of pictures of former employees by employers. Carpenters Fiji Limited was sued by former employee Mahendra Kumar for publishing his photo in the two dailies after he resigned from the company in 2010. Judge Justice A.L.B. Brito-Mutunayagam ruled that advertisement published by Carpenters Fiji Limited was not defamatory. Representing Carpenters Fiji Limited in this landmark case was Emmanuel Narayan of renowned Suva firm Patel Sharma Lawyers. Representing Mr Kumar in this matter was lawyer Amrit Sen. This case has set precedence and has ruled that publication of photographs of former employees is not defamatory. The action stemmed from the advertisement of Mr Kumar’s photo in the dailies paid for by Carpenters Fiji Limited which stated that Mr Kumar was no longer employed by Carpenters Motors and that the company would not be responsible for any transactions or dealings that Mr Kumar may have carried out on behalf of Carpenters Motors. Mr Narayan successfully argued in court that was an advertisement, it was not derogatory and was not designed to cause Mr Kumar disrepute and was not done maliciously. He argued that the company was protecting its interest. He also argued that placement of such advertisements were accepted business and commercial practice and in the public interest. Justice Brito-Mutunayagam also noted that in his resignation letter, Mr Kumar had stated that he contemplated joining “opposition in a very near future”. This case has set a precedence and has ruled that publication of photographs of former employees is not defamatory.