Didn’t know that Frederick Forstyth wrote short stories. Then came across No Comebacks, a collection of short stories published in 1982. From the story “Privilege”, in a scene where a small businessperson consults with his lawyer about a potential libel action, having being accused by a journalist of being part of a larger fraud. The lawyer advises as follows:
If you won, got damages and costs awarded against the defendants, that is, the newspapers, you would get the damages clear. But if the judge made no order as to costs, which they only tend to do in the worst of cases, you would have to carry your own costs. If you lost, the judge could even award the defendants’ costs against you, in addition to your own. Even if you won, the newspapers could take the case to appeal. For that you could double the cots involved. Even if you won the appeal, without an order as to costs, you would be ruined.
Then there is the mud-slinging. After two years people have long forgotten the original article in the paper anyway. The court case repeats it all again, with a mass of further material and allegations. Although you would be suing, the paper’s counsel would have the task of destroying your reputation as an honest businessman, in the interests of his clients. Sling enough mud, and some with stick. There have been men, too numerous to mention, who have won their cases and emerged with very smeared reputations. In court all allegations can be printed publicly and do not have to be substantiated…
There are many people who hotly entered into litigation and lived to regret it bitterly.
Though some people succeed:
Or the mud stays slung: