False assertions of fact

What is an assertion of fact?

In contrast to the expression of an opinion which is protected by the right to free speech under Art 5 of the German constitution (Grundgesetz), false and incorrect assertions of fact do not enjoy constitutional legal protection.

The difference between an assertion of fact and the expression of an opinion is that evidence can be adduced to prove a fact.

Where an established truthful fact is expressed, its publication must, subject to some exceptions, be tolerated. Where an unproven fact is expressed by a person, that person must bring some evidence to demonstrate its truth. If evidence cannot be produced, the fact will be treated as an untrue or incorrect assertion of fact.

Intentional incomplete reporting also falls under the definition of untrue or incorrect assertions of fact. The assertions can occur in text form, in photographs, caricatures and other images.

What action can I take against the publication of an incorrect assertion of fact?

The publication of incorrect or untrue assertions of fact need not be tolerated. A number of options are open to individuals and companies to pursue such publications.

In articles, incorrect assertions of fact regularly appear together with expressions of opinions. Whether the content of the article can be protected under Art 5 of the German constitution must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

German lawyer Christian Solmecke and his expert team can help you to defend your rights and are available to advise you on:

  • Declarations to cease and desist
  • Retractions
  • Damages and compensation
  • Rights of reply
  • Right to information concerning the publication
  • Deletion

Do you need to protect yourself or your company from personality right infringements? Do you need to defend yourself against damaging publications? Or perhaps you simply have general questions of the right to free speech and rights of the press? We are here to help!

German lawyer Christian Solmecke and his expert team are available to answer your questions. Call us on +49 (0) 221 / 951 563 0.

Back to Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Press

Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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