Glenn Duker Solicitor

Do Defamation Laws Apply To Online Reviews?

When choosing a restaurant or planning an overseas trip, many people will look to online reviews to guide their decisions. Websites like Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor and WOMO allow users to share their experiences at hotels, restaurants, spas and countless other businesses. Many users write in detail about their likes and dislikes, rating the service they received while providing advice they feel may be useful to potential customers. In a crowded marketplace, it’s no wonder that review sites like these are frequently consulted and can have a big influence on where people decide to take their business.

Glenn DukerBut what can you do if you find a scathing online review that is damaging to your business? Can you take the attacker to court for defamation? The simple answer is yes – but only if you are a small business with fewer than 10 employees. Lawyer and solicitor Glenn Duker explains.

Australian law allows small businesses to take action over malicious material posted to online review sites and business bad-mouthers can face thousands of dollars in penalties. In one extreme case, a NSW food critic for a major newspaper was ordered to pay more than $60,000 to a restaurant he reviewed poorly after a legal battle that spanned almost a decade.

However, it’s not necessarily an easy process: for a small business to be successful in a defamation case, it will need to be proven that the online review was not an honest opinion of the reviewer, or that review was maliciously produced with the express intention of damaging your business’ reputation.

If you find yourself in a circumstance like this and want to find out if you may have a legitimate case, get in touch with lawyer and solicitor Glenn Duker for professional advice.

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