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Insulation from Litigation


  • Hi all.
    I'm not usually one to start a thread, but here goes. I'm working on a memoir that digs the claws in (as a good memoir should!!) to some family members.
    I am very aware of keeping myself above board and to not make 'outrageous' claims, but there are 'skeletons in the closet' type instances that I would want to run by a GOOD defamation lawyer.
    I remember about 12 months ago Writing Magazine ran an editorial about this exact topic. As would happen to all of us (who aren't particularly organised) I cannot find the copy.
    Has any TBer had occasion to use, or is in a position to refer/recommend a suitable professional? I would rather do it from here than blindly from the 'net.

    Thanks,
    Paige
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  • Webbo would probably be able to help you with the item, if no one else can recall the edition it was in.

    You need to remember that if the person is living their view of the same events are likely to be different from yours.
  • It's not just the person who might sue you have to consider. Other family members might be upset by what you write (however accurate and tactful you are).

    Old wounds could be opened, or revelations may come as a shock. Family members might react differently from one another causing permanent divisions or attempts at retaliation.

    That's not to say you shouldn't write this, but do think carefully about all possible negative implications, not just legal ones.

  • "I'm working on a memoir that digs the claws in (as a good memoir should!!) to some family members."

    No. That isn't why memoirs are written.

    It's possible to write a good memoir without identifying people. It sounds to me as if you're out for revenge. Readers won't engage with a book that's been written to settle a few scores.

  • Thanks to Phots and Baggy.
    When I wrote of 'digging in the claws' I used it as a reference to using a 'warts and all' account. Sure, there are trains of thought about various types of memoirs ranging from the soft to the outrageous. My view is that if one's life is severely edited, then the memoir itself serves no purpose.
    Revenge, in my view, can hardly be sought from a publication, because the risk of it backfiring (as you both rightly point out) can be detrimental to the wider family, to the author, and to the publication.
    Putting that side, the thrust of my thread was to seek assistance in the form of a defamation specialist or a Writing Magazine back issue.
    Thanks for you wise insight.
    P
  • "My view is that if one's life is severely edited, then the memoir itself serves no purpose."

    Then write an autobiography. That's really what you should be aiming for.
  • It's a few years ago now, but when I worked in newspapers these were our lawyers http://www.footanstey.com/ They were very good.
  • That's what I'm talkin' about!

    Just emailed them.

    Now I'm embarrassed about my comment yesterday about not liking dogs. I must learn to open my perspectives. Thank you so much!
  • Not a problem. I don't take offence easily.