The implications of leaving a bad review may have crossed your mind before, but what can a company actually do if they don’t like the feedback you’ve left them?
What is the difference between a negative and defamatory review?
In short, a bad review is only defamatory if a false statement is made with the intention of misleading the reader. Although everyone has the right to freedom of expression, this does not entail the right to make defamatory comments.
While all businesses can expect some level of criticism from time to time, defamation that is likely to cause serious financial and reputational damage to a business is something that a company can take feasible legal action over.
What happens to a false review?
If a business owner decides to take someone to court, the reviewer will have to prove that what they said was their genuine experience. However, the business would also have to prove that the comment was defamatory and that they have suffered a financial loss as a result.
We recommend that you report the review to the source it was left on, such as Google or Yell. What often happens is that businesses respond to negative reviews with their version of events and therefore leave it to consumers to decide what is true.
When do the courts get involved?
A letter from the business that outlines the reasons for considering the review to be defamatory should be sent directly to the person who wrote the review, threatening legal action if it’s not immediately taken down.
If this fails, then the business will most likely seek out court intervention to nudge the writer of the review to delete it or face a fine. If successful, it’s extremely probable that the author would also be ordered to pay the legal costs of the claim.