Legal Advice - Book Publishing -

During lockdown I took the opportunity to put pen to paper and write my memoirs. A sort of Autobiography in a series of anecdotal stories, memories from my life in the Army.

It is in a similar vein to 'Stumpy and the Auld Sapper' which I'm sure many of you are aware of.

It is a warts and all, no holds barred account of where I went, what I did, who I met, served with, fought with, loved and hated.

In some cases I have written about characters using their full names, and in a few instances 'character assassinated' them based on my views, opinions and honestly held beliefs, based on the truth and facts as I saw them at the time.

Before I make any further attempts to publish this book I am researching the law and rules around Libel, Slander, and the Defamation Act 2013 to see if there are any risks I should be aware of.

I am appealing to any Lawyers, (Proper one's, not Barrack Room), or Legal experts within the Arrse Communuty to ask if you have any knowledge or experience you could share or advise on.

In my view everything I have written is statement of fact, true events, nothing made up. So if any if the characters read the book, and felt they were being hard done by, it would be down to them to prove what I had written was untrue, and / or caused significant harm.

I have considered changing the names to protect the guilty, but I feel by doing this it would detract from the authenticity and credibility of the situations being described.

Any advice appreciated.

TIA

@Andy Farman @ACAB @dingerr

Clubs.
 
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In my view everything I have written is statement of fact, true events, nothing made up. So if any if the characters read the book, and felt they were being hard done by, it would be down to them to prove what I had written was untrue, and / or caused significant harm.


In English defamation law the burden of proof is on the defendant, not the claimant, unlike many other jurisdictions such as the US where the burden of proof is on the claimant. This is why the UK courts are such a popular destination for wealthy litigants.

As such, if someone in the UK believed they had been libelled by your words and then commenced an action in law against you, it would be up to you as the defendant to prove that your words were true to the satisfaction of a judge.

Not be able to do that proved very costly to Katie Hopkins who currently lives in rented accommodation, having lost her house to pay off lawyers fees and damages awards when she incorrectly accused Jack Monroe of vandalising war memorials. Hopkins got Monroe confused with the equally unpleasant Laurie Penny.

See wiki -

English defamation law - Wikipedia

(Third para down)

One way around it would to be change the names of the protagonists.

Also consider setting up a Limited company as the book publisher, as any legal action will be taken against them rather than you as an individual.
 
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FrosteeMARIA

LE
Gallery Guru
Although this is based around US laws, still worth a read;
 
A good summary of the legislation re defamation is here;

A short segment from the link.

"A claimant will need to satisfy the court that the defamation is sufficiently serious and that the imputation, extent and/or nature of the words publication is such that real reputational damage has been suffered. An additional test applies to a body trading for profit, namely a requirement to show that a statement has caused, or is likely to cause, serious financial loss."

Nobody will suffer any financial loss caused by what I have written. They may well be embarrassed or have their feelings hurt, or claim that said conversations never took place. But as no one else was present at the time, it would be my word versus theirs.

So far I think I'm in the clear...I hope.
 
In English defamation law the burden of proof is on the defendant, not the claimant, unlike many other jurisdictions such as the US where the burden of proof is on the claimant. This is why the UK courts are such a popular destination for wealthy litigants.

As such, if someone in the UK believed they had been libelled by your words and then commenced an action in law against you, it would be up to you as the defendant to prove that your words were true to the satisfaction of a judge.

Not be able to do that proved very costly to Katie Hopkins who currently lives in rented accommodation, having lost her house to pay off lawyers fees and damages awards when she incorrectly accused Jack Monroe of vandalising war memorials. Hopkins got Monroe confused with the equally unpleasant Laurie Penny.

See wiki -

English defamation law - Wikipedia

(Third para down)

One way around it would to be change the names of the protagonists.

Also consider setting up a Limited company as the book publisher, as any legal action will be taken against them rather than you as an individual.

"One way around it would to be change the names of the protagonists"

Even if I changed the names of the protagonists, anyone reading it who are family or close friends of the persons in question would be able to put two and two together and work out exactly who it is I'm talking about.
 
It would also be worth taking advice on any possible effects of the new GDPR privacy laws that came into effect in 2018, in case any of the book finds its way onto the Internet.
 
It would also be worth taking advice on any possible effects of the new GDPR privacy laws that came into effect in 2018, in case any of the book finds its way onto the Internet.
It is likely that the whole book would finish up on the internet as a point of sale, Anazon Books for example.
 
It is likely that the whole book would finish up on the internet as a point of sale, Anazon Books for example.
Amazon etc can sell paper books without quoting the text, thus avoiding GDPR. The problem would possibly be if published as an ebook, or if sections of the book are published for publicity or sharing purposes.
 

Hairy-boab

Old-Salt
"One way around it would to be change the names of the protagonists"

Even if I changed the names of the protagonists, anyone reading it who are family or close friends of the persons in question would be able to put two and two together and work out exactly who it is I'm talking about.
"This is a work of fiction, any resemblance of the story to people, places or real events is purely coincidental"
 
"This is a work of fiction, any resemblance of the story to people, places or real events is purely coincidental"
Fiction is made up, you need to use your imagination when you are writing it. Types of fiction include plays, stories and poems. There are many different types of non-fiction writing, such as newspapers, adverts, brochures, reference books and biographies. A non-fiction book is about facts.

This is an Autobiography, a factual account of events, therefore non fiction.
 
A publisher will advise you, if/when you get to that stage. They'll want to get it right because they could be liable to action as well as you.

FWIW I've heard a couple of examples from local history writing where someone has taken exception to a well-meaning, light hearted comment. These didn't go legal but did create a very unpleasant situation. People do read and interpret things differently, sense of humour varies. I'd avoid the potential grief.
 

Troy

LE
As an almost on topic side note... Film makers nowadays use the disclaimer that all persons are fictitious because back in 1935 Princess Irina Alexandrovna sued MGM for defamation. By suggesting in the 1932 movie called Rasputin and the Empress, that she had been seduced by Rasputin. A tale worth looking up.
 

ACAB

LE
I would not name people who pissed me off because the Police Federation has deep pockets.

Instead I chose to ignore them and concentrate on the good parts of the job, both military and civil.

And I do not regret it for one moment. Trying to score points over some whatever slights is not conducive to good mental health.

And, most importantly, do not fall for the utter bullcrap that this site attracts and promises to publish. He is a ******. David at MLRS Books. Avoid him like the plague.
 
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I would not name people who pissed me off because the Police Federation has deep pockets.

Instead I chose to ignore them and concentrate on the good parts of the job, both military and civil.

And I do not regret it for one moment. Trying to score points over some whatever slights is not conducive to good mental health.

And, most importantly, do not fall for the utter bullcrap that this site attracts and promises to publish. He is a ******. David at MLRS Books. Avoid him like the plague.
When you are telling a story or describing a particular event it is nigh on impossible not to mention those who were present at the time; otherwise there is no story to tell.

And when setting the scene, it is essential to describe the characters and the personnel involved, even if the words are harsh. I wouldn't say that these were people who pissed me off, at least not all of them anyway; but describing their character or personality has to be included for credibility reasons.

Not everyone I met was a 'nice guy'
 

Hairy-boab

Old-Salt
Fiction is made up, you need to use your imagination when you are writing it. Types of fiction include plays, stories and poems. There are many different types of non-fiction writing, such as newspapers, adverts, brochures, reference books and biographies. A non-fiction book is about facts.

This is an Autobiography, a factual account of events, therefore non fiction.
It might be worth honestly reflecting upon your reasons for writing a book. Is it to entertain the reader, to pass on knowledge etc, or is it to settle scores?
 
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It might be honestly reflecting upon your reasons for writing a book. Is it to entertain the reader, to pass on knowledge etc, or is it to settle scores?
All three, however the latter is a lot more about setting the record straight than settling scores.
 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
I suppose the question to ask yourself is, given the resources, what would you do if portrayed in this fashion in a book? While it may be easy to say you would just shrug it off, but once your peers and friends start commenting, possibly on social media, would you go for the jugular in court?
 

sirbhp

LE
Book Reviewer
During lockdown I took the opportunity to put pen to paper and write my memoirs. A sort of Autobiography in a series of anecdotal stories, memories from my life in the Army.

I

In my view everything I have written is statement of fact, true events, nothing made up. So if any if the characters read the book, and felt they were being hard done by, it would be down to them to prove what I had written was untrue, and / or caused significant harm.



TIA

@Andy Farman @ACAB @dingerr

Clubs.
Are these your facts and Truths ? Change the names and enjoy a good nights sleep . Dont forget no win no fee merchants .
 
Are these your facts and Truths ? Change the names and enjoy a good nights sleep . Dont forget no win no fee merchants .
As I have already mentioned, even if I change the names, anyone who I served with will know exactly who I'm talking about anyway. I don't believe it is possible to tell a true story when the names are fictitious. It just doesn't make any sense.
 

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