The Regional Court in Lublin through its judgment of September 4, 2014 (file no. II Ca 366/14) ordered a defendant who wrote a negative comment about a seller’s account on the Allegro auction service to pay the amount of 300 PLN by way of compensation for infringing the personal rights of the seller. In the said comment, the defendant described her counterpart as, among things, a jerk, thief and hypocrite.
The Court, justifying its judgment, stated that “legal circumstances relating to the agreement as such (withdrawal from the agreement and the term of performance) are of secondary importance since even the contingent civil dispute regarding the existence of the agreement and the manner of performance thereof (…) did not entitle the defendant to write comments infringing upon the personal rights of the claimant, but merely to write a comment that would factually describe the inappropriate, in her opinion, conduct of the seller.”
In addition, the Court indicated despite the fact that some other buyers also wrote remarks offensive to the seller and defaming him, this could not be used to justify using similar expressions by other people.
It is worth noting here that if we only seek compensation for infringing personal rights, i.e. we do not assert any other claims resulting from civil law (e.g. apology or cease and desist), the district court shall be competent to settle such case and the regional court shall be the court of appeal. In any other cases, the regional court shall be competent to settle the case in the first instance.
The judgment of the Regional Court in Lublin is another step in determining the boundaries of permissible critique and formulating normative statements. It also indicates that the use of expressions commonly considered offensive, even in places specifically intended for expressing your opinion about your counterpart, may constitute infringement of personal rights.
Full content of the judgment with justification.