The Denník N daily officially won its first legal dispute with the financial group Penta.
The Bratislava Regional Court confirmed that the daily did not have to acknowledge to the financial group the right of reply in connection with the story describing its dispute with the Hospodárske Noviny daily.
It is the first victory for Denník N, while there are another nine lawsuits against the paper submitted by the financial group, the daily reported on its website.
“We are very glad that the courts, whose work positively surprised us, accepted our claims and that this dispute, which was absurd since the very beginning, has been definitively closed,” said the daily’s publisher Lukáš Fila, as quoted by Denník N.
He believes that the courts will issue similar verdicts also in another nine cases, and that it will be confirmed that journalists can write about Penta’s scandals, and that journalists and entrepreneurs will see there is no reason to be afraid of the financial group.
Lawsuit for the story published elsewhere
The story in question concerned the purchase of Black Hawk helicopters, and the financial group was offered a space to comment. The statement on which Penta complained was not a factual claim, but rather an evaluation, the judges claimed.
Moreover, they said that the story mentions “financial group Penta”, which is not the official name of the corporate entity, so the complainant, Penta Investments Group Limited, in fact was not mentioned in the story. Moreover, since it was the name of the financial group which is not a corporate entity and thus does not have a legal personality, the statement could not damage its reputation, Denník N wrote.
The dispute between Penta and the daily was a bit strange since it concerned the story about the text originally published in Hospodárske Noviny, according to Denník N. Penta asked for publishing the reply to the story published in June 2015, in which reporter Monika Tódová described the ongoing legal dispute between the financial group and the other daily, which had been sued for the story about the purchase of Black Hawk helicopters.
Penta did not like the sentence that stated that “the Defence Ministry has not said yet who will service the helicopters, and it is not ruled out that after some time it will also be Aero Vodochody, owned by Penta”.
The court however claimed this cannot be considered a factual statement as it is not possible to prove its veracity, Denník N wrote.
Moreover, both the district and the regional courts dismissed the lawsuit because Penta had not explained why the statement damages their reputation. They claimed that the legal representative of the financial group could comment on the case in the story and disproved all claims concerning the service of the helicopters.
The right of reply should secure that the second party will be given space to comment on the issue, which had already happened in the published story, Denník N wrote.
Disclaimer: Penta financial group has a 45-percent share in Petit Press, the co-owner of The Slovak Spectator.