Civil compensation for damage to reputation

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The information society has created a new virtual marketplace consisting of the internet. The unlimited expansion capacity of the web is the reason for the success of this means of communication and content diffusion, today's reality sees us perpetually connected. The diffusion of this content on the internet creates an impact on privacy disproportionate to the right of expression, often the limits are exceeded and this causes damage to the identity and digital reputation. The crucial character of damage to digital identity and reputation is the sense of inevitability of the fact, the digital event exists and the person involved can do nothing to remedy it. The consequences of this damage on the person are devastating: they provoke identity crises, inner suffering and zeroing of the design dimension.

The damage from injured reputation on the web

Are you wondering what the possibility of compensating for damage to mental health has to do with relation to communicative - relational and reputational problems that have occurred online? In court, this is a partially recent acquisition, which awaits prompt action to ensure decisive responses. The slow development of this matter in the jurisprudential field is largely due to the need to preventively prevent pretext claims. The problem of compensation for personal injury is to be understood as an act of justice that protects the conditions of compromise of psycho-physical integrity, following an event harmful to the psychological balance and relationship life. If on the one hand the assessment of psychic damage sees a historical diatribe between law and psychology, on the other the law must constantly confront the evolution of social culture in relation to the sensitivity that society shows with respect to emerging issues: digital identity in the web age, theft and right to be forgotten; evolution of the concept of reputation and new social profiles…

The notion of psychic damage is mentioned for the first time in juridical matters with the sentence of 1986 (Constitutional Court 184/1986) with the definition of "injury to the psycho-physical integrity of the person", which underlines not only the dimension physics of the injured subject, but also the psychic one. The consequent generality of the norm has produced in recent years interpretative battles on the notion of damage, according to an orientation that distinguished between patrimonial, biological and moral damage. In particular, in the judgment, the compensation for moral damage was foreseen only if the event causing the damage constituted a crime (Article 2059 of the Italian Civil Code). The turning point came in 2003 with the sentences of the Court of Cassation (8827-8828) and of the Constitutional Court (233) with the relocation of the concepts of damage. The moral damage becomes compensable even if the fact does not constitute a crime, as the event has affected the intangibility of the affects, the family and the free explanation of the freedom of the human person. Those forms of damage to the person that are different in nature from property damage are taken into consideration: damage to the sexual sphere, aesthetic damage, damage to the life of relationships, damage to the deterioration of working capacity, in addition to psycho-physical violations.

How we operate:

On this line, the fundamental distinction made is that between patrimonial and non-patrimonial damage:


  1.  As a rule, pecuniary damage is divided into "emerging damage" and "loss of profit". The first consists in the decrease of the assets in relation to goods or production situations caused by an harmful event, the second concerns the compensation for the loss of earnings caused by the harmful event that interrupted the production activity.
  2. Non-pecuniary damage includes biological damage, moral damage and existential damage in its classification. The damage can be direct, determined by damage of a physical nature (trauma, stroke, etc ...), psychic (from death, aesthetic, work, etc. ...), or directly constituted by the effects of the harmful event.


In this context, we would like to underline that today it is possible to rely on psycho-legal protection and support tools that can help people in difficulty born from specific disputes arising from the use of digital tools. This concept is commonly assimilated to the so-called moral damage, consisting, according to the jurisprudence, in an "unjust disturbance of the mood of the subject".

In this regard, it is possible to list, by way of example, the cases in which it is possible to resort to requesting psycho-legal protection to request compensation for damage to digital identity and reputation and psychological support:

  • Injury of image and honor
  • Loss of opportunity to carry out an activity
  • Loss of opportunity to play a role in personal and / or social life
  • Serious manifestations of psychological suffering (anxiety, panic attacks, depression, psychosomatic manifestations)
  • Obsessive use of the Internet with consequent dependence (Internet Addiction Disorder)
  • Rejection of the web
  • Serious impairment of the social and emotional sphere.

Going into the psycho-legal method that can be used when determining the damage, it is important to remember the comparative character that distinguishes this type of assessment on the estimate of a loss of efficiency (psychological or neuropsychological) compared to the period prior to the event. For example, the comparison will be made between the degree of efficiency of the person, before a traumatic experience arising from the use of social media, and after this event.
The investigation, aimed at ascertaining the existence of a psychopathology ascribable to the traumatic event, develops through a process that is divided into phases, one of which consists in the psychometric evaluation of the psychological state through one of the most well-known tests in the expert's field: MMPI ®-2.

MMPI®-2 is a broad-spectrum test to evaluate the main structural characteristics of personality and emotional disorders. Questionnaire of 567 items with double alternative response ("true" or "false"), consisting of eight validity scales, ten basic, sixteen additional, fifteen content, the five PSY-5 and 27 subscales relating to the components of the stairs in content, 28 Harris-Lingoes subscales and 3 Yes subscales.

The key features of the test are:

  • Identification of psychiatric, clinical and neuropsychological disorders.
  • Annotation of significant items as signs of symptoms not previously encountered. 

It is one of the major tools used for:

  • Identify early any clinical psychopathologies.
  • To deepen aspects of personality useful in the expert field.
  • Evaluate the major structural characteristics of the personality and emotional disorders.
  • Make psychiatric and psychological diagnoses, and determine the severity of the psychopathological disorder.
  • Check the effects of a therapy or any other changes that occurred after the therapy itself.