Publication / General practice law

Suggestion law?!

Suggestion law?!


‘With immediate effect Juan Bimba is not authorized anymore to legally act and receive monies on behalf of the Firm  Lihe i Pagabel. Accordingly payments made to him are invalid’. ‘Seeking creditors of Maria Malpagado in connection with a petition for bankruptcy’. With some regularity I come across similar ‘announcements’ or ‘notifications’. Reason enough to assess the texts used, yet rather the purport thereof, on their  judicial merits.  

It goes without saying that a text in an advertisement as the one regarding Juan Bimba, without stating that with so many words, suggests that something in the relationship with his employer has gone terribly wrong. The first impression when reading such an advertisement is that Juan Bimba did not terminate the employee-employer relationship with a well-deserved pension after a long employment with the Firm Lihe i Pagabel, with a real farewell party with praise and tears in the employer’s eyes. No, the suggestion that he might have been kicked out due to fraud wins in comparison to the image of a beaming Juan at his farewell party. Indeed, the continuous churning rumor mill goes into gear and social media and the network of friends are eagerly browsed respectively consulted in order to find the underlying reasons that led to this instant dismissal, of course this from the mere assumption that the advertisement is true.

Of course the advertisement in which the creditors of Maria Malpagado are urged to come forward is served with the same sauce.  Such an advertisement also includes the suggestion that  Maria Malpagado left at least one debt unpaid, yet probably several debts and that she, despite our tropical temperatures, left her creditors out in the [proverbial] cold,  which creditors are therefore requested to come forward to join forces for a (joint) petition for bankruptcy.

The remarkable thing about the two advertisements is of course that the suggestive element associated with them is all in your mind and your own imagination as neither the ‘announcement’ nor the ‘notice’ itself mentions the aforementioned suggestive assumptions.   

Equally suggestive is obviously the image that is created when during a search warrant, after the media has reported this and the Paparazzi who rushed to the location is present at the house in question, and a money counter is brought inside perkily and clearly visible; after all there is no  form whatsoever of wrapping or cover. Also in actions a suggestive ‘announcement’ can be ‘wrapped’. At least the suggestion is created that during the search of the premises so much cash was found that manual counting would be a hopeless task and it would be a lot more efficient to use a banknote counting machine. Also in this respect the image that is created by the suggestion is all effectuated in your head now that there is no announcement whatsoever of aforementioned twitch.

The fact that suggestive advertisements can be insulting and detrimental to one’s reputation becomes evident from the following case. Early 2005, the newspaper ‘Brabants Dagblad’ and two other local dailies placed an advertisement with the following text: ‘Reward € 10,000.- for the person who can disclose where Y, an attorney at office X, went on October 4, 2001 between 9.00 am and 12 pm. All responses will be kept strictly confidential’. Given the exceptional nature of the advertisement also other media paid attention to it. In interlocutory proceedings the attorney in question claimed rectification of the suggestion that had supposedly been created that she had in some way acted in an inappropriate manner. By judgment  of February 25, 2005 the Court of Arnhem [ECLI:NL:RBARN:2005:AS8145 and NJF 2005,155] ruled that the advertisement  ‘suggested that in practising her profession as an attorney, Y made a major error, as a result of which the interest of the  commissioning authority  [of the detective bureau] was prejudiced [and] consequently the publication cannot merely be labeled as businesslike, neutral and uncommitted.  On the contrary, the formulation as chosen and the implicit suggestion it poses, are at least insinuating towards the attorney and her office and suitable for damage to one’s reputation’.  The rectification claim  was therefore awarded.  

Well dear reader, I’ll bet that after reading this article you are looking at this kind of advertisement in a different manner and as a future former employer or as creditor seeking allies you will think twice before you place a similar ad. But of course this is only meant suggestively  …………..!

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