Criticizing an apartment in a forum is freedom of expression: the Provincial Court knocks down the accusation of a real estate agency against two users
“If this is so, you have to close the forums. You could not even comment, for example, if you did not like a flat that you bought”, explained incredulous David Bravo, lawyer specializing in computer law. Three years after the events, the Madrid Provincial Court has finally closed the case, giving the reason to the two users accused by the real estate Valenor.
In 2018, a user on the web nuevavecinos.com criticized the state of some flats. Due to this complaint, the author of the comment and his partner, co-owner of the house but who had not even published a message, were accused and brought to trial by the examining court No. 50 in Madrid for a possible crime of serious insults for alleged denigrating comments . Finally, freedom of expression has been imposed and those simple comments have not had a major impact, despite attempts by the real estate agency to pursue those criticisms.
2 years in prison were asked for slander
The resolution of the Provincial Court of Madrid, to which Xataka has had access, is quite clear. Despite the fact that the Investigating Court took them to trial, the appeal was accepted and the case has been dismissed. That is to say, the accusation of the real estate agency has come to nothing. However, to get to this point those two users have had to go to court and face charges of up to 2 years in prison and 50,000 euros in compensation.
The order to archive the case comes after the investigating court had formalized the accusation and He had required them to pay 50,000 euros as a deposit within a day, explains David Bravo. The couple did not enter anything, so they were waiting for their checking accounts to be seized.
Everything stems from some comments about the poor quality of the materials of some houses, which cost between 530,000 and 650,000 euros. The accused user commented on the experience of other users, expressing that they should take legal action because they had paid for excellent qualities and not what they were describing.
For these comments, the real estate company complained describing that the couple was claiming that the materials were defective and was charging the real estate with a crime of fraud. Something that was not like that, as it was tried to demonstrate through screenshots of the forum. Instead of accepting this evidence, the court understood that “all kinds of denigrating comments” had been made and the case was carried forward.
The Provincial Court of Madrid considers the appeal, closes the procedure and sends it to be archived. He says that it is “evident to anyone” who reads the comments that there is nothing that the real estate company was holding, nor is there any crime. No slander or insults or anything. END
– David Bravo (@dbravo) July 14, 2021
“Through them the right to free expression of ideas and opinions is exercised, it being evident that only a serious attack on the image of the person referred to in the text would justify curtailing the fundamental right in conflict with the right to free expression, “says the Provincial Court, placing freedom of expression in a relevant position in the reflection on the case.
Finally, the Provincial Court of Madrid has agreed with the two users, stating that “it is evident to anyone who followed the conversation” that the user had not said what he was accused of. Additionally, the Hearing expresses that the crime of insults is criminal when they are serious and that in this case, since there are no insulting or pejorative comments, there is no crime. Regarding the fact that the user’s partner was also accused, the Audience logically states that if so, friends or family could have been accused.
“It seems surprising that a court has come to prosecute two people for demonstrations that for the Provincial Court of Madrid it was” abundantly clear “that they were not made. We are glad that the Chamber has corrected the situation and stopped this bench penalty. note that the plaintiffs even added to their accusation the fact that this case appeared in the press Because it seemed to them to be told in a tortuous way, we are especially happy that this resolution is so forceful, that it confirms what those news said, that it says that the arguments of the plaintiffs lack the “minimum rigor” or that they do not deserve comments and that, ultimately , put them in their place ”, says the lawyer in the case.