What can I do about negative reviews?

With the emergence of review aggregators on the internet such as Tripadvisor, Trustpilot, Google Reviews, Zomato and Yelp, online reviews have become crucial to the success of any business. This means that bad reviews can be damaging and can be the reason for a decline in revenue. As businesses rely on good reviews, it is important to understand what options are available to you when an individual or competitor (as sometimes is the case) leaves a negative review of your goods or services.

It is important to know that if the review is an honest opinion and is based in truth, there are probably no legal avenues available to you and it may be best to reach out to the individual/business directly to attempt to resolve the problem amicably, or alternatively make a complaint to the social media platform.  While this is not a legal process, we have assisted many clients in having negative reviews removed from social media platforms by making a persuasive case for removal to the relevant site managers.

However, if the review is false, or is not based on true facts, then you may be entitled to commence legal proceedings for defamation against both the individual who authored the post, and, in some cases, also the platform as a 3rd party publisher.

Before commencing any legal proceedings, you should take steps to determine the identity of the person who posted the review and confirm that they were a genuine customer of yours (and not fictitious). You need to be able to identify the person before you can consider commencing proceedings.  If you cannot identify the person, then you may need to consider your rights against the platform.

In the context of defamation proceedings or proceedings for Injurious falsehood, one remedy you will be able to seek (in addition to damages) is a court order requiring the removal of the offensive post.

Online defamation remains a complex area of law and commencing action can be expensive and time consuming. If your business has been affected by false information, it is important to receive advice quickly. Tom Howard Legal can assist you assess the relevant options by cutting out the legalese and considering the commerciality of each strategy.