Psychological research has demonstrated that an apology can contribute to the well-being of the receiver of the apology. However, the legal community has only cautiously embraced the idea of claiming and ordering apologies in a legal procedure. The conventional wisdom is that apologies that are claimed or ordered do not serve a purpose because they lack sincerity and violate the right to freedom of expression. This article challenges conventional wisdom by demonstrating that apologies do not need to be sincere in order for them to serve a purpose. Based on available empirical research, case law and scholarly research on apologies, this article identifies the purposes of coerced apologies and uses these purposes to draft criteria for determining when ordered apologies are appropriate. It is concluded that an ordered apology is a fulfilment of a legal requirement rather than a statement of genuinely held feelings. A proportionality test is proposed and developed in order to determine the permissibility of ordered apologies. The findings refute the sincerity myth, offer suggestions as to how to overcome freedom of expression concerns and call for a more welcoming approach towards the ordered apology.
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- apology, law, legal, ordered, court-ordered, freedom of expression, sincerity