What Can I Do If There Are Defamatory Reviews About My Business Posted Online?

Defamation no longer is the preserve of national broadsheet newspapers and the rich and famous. The internet has enabled anyone to publish statements about another individual or business at the click of a button. For example Review websites such as “Trip Advisor” and “Check-a-trade” can provide a useful tool for consumers to assess products and services before committing to a contract.

We have had a number of commercial clients contact us about unfounded and plainly wrong reviews on these websites which are damaging their businesses.

Online defamation can be a real problem for businesses. No business owner wants a Google search of their business to bring up an extremely negative review and there can be suspicion as to whether reviews may have been written anonymously by a competitor.

Defamation is often described as publication of a statement by a third party about an individual that would lower that individual’s reputation in the estimation of right thinking members of society. Businesses can be defamed as well as individuals.

In respect of businesses the case of Drummond-Jackson v BMA further confirms that if a statement imputes lack of knowledge, skill or capacity that can also amount to defamation.

A significant hurdle in bringing an action for defamation in respect of a business can be that even if the business can demonstrate that it has been defamed, it has to prove it has incurred real and substantial damage as a result of the defamatory publication. You should also be aware that there are various defences to defamation and you should seek our advice as to whether there has been defamation and whether there are any defences available.

The damages for online defamation can however be significant. The recent case of Cruddas v Adams led to MP Peter Cruddas being awarded £45,000 in respect of blogs and tweets by Mr Mark Adams about Mr Cruddas even though Mr Adams had just 700 followers on twitter.

Defamation claims in the High Court can be very expensive. Many individuals and businesses simply want the review or defamatory publication removed and we will always try to resolve your claim without the need for Court proceedings where possible and we have had a very recent success for a business in this respect.

However, if a negotiated settlement is not possible, we can pursue proceedings vigorously and cost effectively.

We can provide a service tailored to you in which we will take the necessary steps to get defamatory reviews removed.

We are able to provide an estimate for the likely costs in each case and for each stage so you know the likely costs before you decide if you want to go ahead.

We also have good barrister links with specialist defamation chambers should we need Counsel’s advice or to commence proceedings in the High Court in order to protect your interests.

If you would like to contact us regarding any of these issues, we can arrange to meet you and to advise on how to proceed. We can also assist you with harassment and cyber -bullying issues which are often linked.