When Valenor real estate agency sued Diego and his partner for insults and slander for comments in an Internet forum about the quality of some houses built by this real estate company, both thought it must be a joke. She had not written any comments, while he had limited himself to commenting on the publications of other users. However, that joke It became a nightmare when the investigating judge accepted the real estate’s accusations and sent them to trial.
Threats, insults and publication of personal data: Desokupa’s new intimidation strategy
Valenor argued that the couple had “damaged the good name” of the company and asked for the maximum penalty for these crimes: two years in prison and 50,000 euros in compensation. The investigating judge required the payment of that bail of 50,000 euros within a day, under threat of seizing his assets until that amount was satisfied.
Nine months later the Provincial Court of Madrid has put an end to that bad dream by pointing out that “such allegations lack the slightest rigor.” In a car to which elDiario.es has had access, the three magistrates of the Chamber have upheld the appeal of the couple’s lawyer against the opening of oral proceedings and have ordered the immediate filing of the case.
How did Diego and his partner come to be on the edge of the bench due to some comments written in a forum? It all started in 2018, after they acquired a home from the second phase of a Valenor development in Valdebebas, a wealthy area in the north of Madrid. In October of that year Diego saw some comments on the forum newneighbors.com written by first-phase homebuyers, to whom Valenor had already given the keys.
His future neighbors complained about the poor quality of the houses they had received, for which they had paid between 530,000 and 650,000 euros. Then Diego wrote the first of the comments that would end up causing his prosecution for libel and slander. It was a reply to a user who protested the lack of thermal and acoustic insulation: “I find it a bit unfortunate that floors with these prices and that claim to be perfectly isolated from the outside for energy savings present these problems. If it happened to us in the second phase we will take the appropriate legal measures “.
Between October and December Diego wrote three other comments in that tone. Months later Valenor used them as proof that he and his partner had tried to blame the company for a “scam” for not complying with the conditions of the purchase contract. The real estate company imputes the co-authorship of these comments to her despite the fact that she does not participate in the aforementioned forum.
Valenor’s complaint against the couple claimed that, through the four comments reflected in this information, both had tried to spread that the qualities and materials used in their own home were defective, despite the fact that their phase two house was not gave them up until a few months later.
The head of the Court of Instruction number 50 of Madrid, Esteban Vega, accepted the arguments of the real estate. He reflected in his indictment that the two defendants had made “all kinds of denigrating comments” about the houses, for which he proposed to sit them on the bench. The three magistrates of the Provincial Court of Madrid annul that decision and indicate that none of the actions of Diego or his partner constitute a crime.
Freedom of expression
“Contrary to what is said in the proceedings of October 26 and December 14, 2020, the defendants have not made” all kinds of denigrating comments “, or” certain kinds of comments “regarding” damage to their home. “nor to” the poor quality of the house they lived in “and not even about any other house,” the three magistrates settle in their car.
On the one hand, they recall that Diego’s comments are framed within freedom of expression, “limiting themselves to advising and commenting on what other owners have to say.” “Neither the defendant affirms that the plaintiffs [Valenor] they have done nothing concrete “, abounds in the order to which this medium has had access,” nor their comments and advice are sufficient to qualify it as injury. ”
The three magistrates dispatch the accusation of Diego’s partner with the same firmness, noting that “it is based on the mere fact that he was his sentimental partner” and that “he was the only person who visited the show flat that day.” “What the complainant does not explain is what kind of participation in a crime of insults and slander the above may entail. What D. Diego expressed in a forum is attributable to himself, but not to his partner,” they recall: “The question deserves no further comment. ”
The dismissal order is final, since Valenor has not appealed against him to the Supreme Court. This medium has contacted the company to include its position in this information, but has not received any response.
“We are glad that the Chamber has corrected the situation and stopped this bench penalty,” explains David Bravo, the couple’s lawyer. During the investigation process, the real estate company also tried to add to the accusation the fact that the media such as elDiario.es reported on him, reveals the lawyer: “It seemed to them to be told in a tortuous way.”
“We are especially pleased that this resolution is so forceful, that it confirms what the news said, that it says that the arguments of the plaintiffs lack the” minimum rigor “or that they do not deserve comment and that, ultimately, it puts them in their place” , celebrates Bravo.