On October 3 Information Disputes Council rendered an expert conclusion on the court rulings regarding the lawsuit of “Ijevan Road Construction and Exploitation” CJSC versus the founder of “Ijevan” TV channel, “Ijevan Studio” LLC, and the TV’s correspondent (now – Director) Naira Khachikian.
As it has been reported, on December 2011 the road construction company contested the plot that criticized its actions. The piece was aired on “Ijevan” TV on June 21, 2011 (it was also broadcast by Second Armenian TV Channel and “Yerkir Media” TV channel). The plaintiff demanded to bring apologies, pay off 3 mln 264 thousand AMD (about $ 8,600), from which 3 mln for compensating the moral damage, 200,000 – attorneys’ services and 64,000 – state duty for filing the court. On April 27, 2012 court of general jurisdiction of Tavush region secured the suit, obliging the respondent to compensate the damage, caused by libel, in the amount of 50,000 AMD, pay off the plaintiff’s expenses for attorney services of 20,000 and the state duty of 1,500 AMD. On May 23 the road construction company lodged an appeal against this ruling. On July 4 the RA Civil Court of Appeal abolished the ruling of the court of general jurisdiction and resolved to reverse the case for new examination at the first instance court (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, June 29 – July 5, 2012).
The Information Dispute Council’s conclusion notes that the contested plot is of public interest. IDC namely confirms the assessment of the court of first instance, which qualified the part of the disputed statements as value judgments and the other part – as statement of facts that are subject to being proved. According to IDC, the journalist provided vague evidences and proofs, when presenting the facts in the plot. IDC welcomes the position of the Civil Court of Appeal of reversing the case for new examination and obliging the court of general jurisdiction to clarify whether the plaintiff, before seeking court protection, requested the respondent to refute the published information in the same means as it was disseminated. IDC finds that the clarification of this issue can have a crucial impact on the case outcome. The IDC agrees with the position of the first instance court, which had notably reduced the sum of financial claims towards the respondent. IDC also upheld the approach of the Court of Appeal, which had stated as an omission the fact that the plaintiff had not provided any evidence concerning the damage caused, therefore the issue of monetary compensation should be subject to new examination.
The full expert conclusion of the Information Disputes Council is available in Armenian and in English at http://www.ypc.am/expert/ln/eng.