Defamation

Woman and Son Secure Compensation for Defamation on Facebook against the HSE


 

A woman and her son are to receive €40,000 compensation for defamation on Facebook after the settlement of their claim was approved at the High Court.

The woman and her son – who cannot be named for legal reasons – made their claim for compensation for defamation on Facebook following the child being placed in foster care in 2011. It was alleged that while the boy was in the care of foster parents, they posted a number of Facebook entries containing pictures of the boy and making “false, untrue and highly defamatory” statements about his mother.

The woman claimed that the pictures and the comments accompanying them should never have been published on social media, and that – as the Health Service Executive (HSE) was responsible for placing her son in the care of the foster parents – the HSE was in breach of its statutory duty of care. The mother and son also claimed that their rights to privacy under the Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights had also be breached.

Following further allegations that the woman had been subject to ridicule and contempt, and her character had been damaged, the HSE settled the claim for compensation for defamation on Facebook for €40,000. However, as the claim was partly made on behalf of a child, the settlement had first to be approved by a judge.

Consequently the settlement hearing was held at the High Court before Mr Justice Kevin Cross. After hearing the circumstances of the case, Judge Cross approved the settlement of compensation for defamation on Facebook and awarded costs against the HSE.