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News /Will your review bring legal trouble?

THIS is how to avoid getting into legal trouble when posting negative reviews online.

Restaurant customer Sarah Gardner recently found herself threatened with legal action by the owner, after posting a negative review on TripAdvisor.

More and more people now turn to review sites before attending restaurants, booking holidays or buying tickets for entertainment.

DAS Law suggest the following ideas to help review writers steer clear of any trouble while sharing their opinions.

1 - Tell the truth. A website review is not libellous if the statements contained in the review are true. You are entitled to give your honest opinion. A bad review is only defamatory if you make a false statement which is likely to cause financial loss to a business.

2 - Avoid making defamatory statement. Whilst you have the right to freedom of expression, this is not an absolute right and does not give you the right to make defamatory statements. Avoid making such statements, but don't be deterred from sharing your honest views and experiences.

Holly Heath, a solicitor at DAS Law said: "Like many aspects of law, common sense and truth are the watch-words. Whilst you're entitled to express your views and post your opinions, be aware of the potential impact this may have on the hotel or business you stayed at. If your review is not truthful and has a negative financial impact, then your review could be considered libellous in a court of law."

A business pursuing a claim for libel without a just cause could prove costly as they could face huge legal fees if they are unsuccessful. However, if a business is successful in a defamation case against a reviewer, they would generally be able to recover compensation, legal costs and get a court order instructing the review to remove their review from the website and publish an apology.

DAS Law added that court action should generally be the last resort as defamation claims could be very costly.

Businesses can report the comment to the website but if the comment is genuine the website is unlikely to take it down even if it appears to be defamatory. Many travel sites such as TripAdvisor allow businesses to provide a response to the review giving their side.

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Copyright 2017 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jun 5, 2017
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