Defamation action over scathing online reviews is more serious than you think
Having suffered some terrible product or service, there is canada goose clearance something darkly satisfying about publishing a scathing online review. This may not be virtuous or kind, but it can be cathartic.
However, if your online review is disparaging of a person’s reputation, that person could sue you for defamation.
The rise of the keyboard warriorsKeyboard warriors like me have benefited from an explosion in the number of review websites and apps in recent years. These cover everything from food, to travel, to medical professionals.
canada goose clearance Platforms like Facebook and Google make it very easy to leave a scathing canada goose store online review. Mobile technology enables customers to vent, or compliment, even while they are still in the store. canada goose clearance
canada goose Review websites keep consumers informed while letting the market know what works and what does not. In extreme cases, consumer reviews can even move corporate giants to change their policies. canada https://www.pick-canadagoose.com goose
Canada Goose sale For those on the other side of the equation, online reviews can be terrifying. I know from experience anonymous student evaluations are part and parcel of being a university lecturer. Canada Goose sale
Bad reviews can be
canada goose black friday sale You can be sued for a scathing reviewIn Australia, freedom of speech is not as free as some might think even when “spoken” on the internet. Although we have an implied freedom of political communication in canada goose uk outlet our constitution, we do not have a US style right to free speech. Defamation law places Canada Goose Parka significant limitations on our freedom of speech. canada goose black friday sale
canada goose coats on sale Courts have the power to force a person to remove content from the internet, or canada goose uk black friday pay damages to the plaintiff for harm done to their reputation. Failure to comply could mean prosecution for contempt. canada goose coats on sale
buy canada goose jacket cheap Professional reputation is highly valued by defamation law. Damages can be significant if defamation causes an actual loss of business, or even a loss of opportunity. In the absence of proven economic loss, substantial “general” damages may still Canada Goose Coats On Sale be awarded Canada Goose online as canada goose coats on sale a buy canada goose jacket cheap consolation for hurt and distress. buy canada goose jacket cheap
canadian goose jacket When defamation occurs online, damages awards Canada Goose sale may increase to account for the “grapevine cheap canada goose uk effect”: the way salacious content tends to be shared and repeated on the internet. canadian goose jacket
Canada Goose Jackets However, there are a couple of barriers that could make it harder to sue. Canada Goose Jackets
buy canada goose jacket Firstly, some “persons” cannot sue. Under Australia’s uniform defamation laws, certain canada goose outlet corporate bodies that is, companies do not have a cause canada goose of action in defamation. Unlike overseas, large companies like McDonald’s can’t sue under Australian defamation law, but this does not apply to not for profits or small businesses with 10 employees or uk canada goose less. Hotheads should proceed with caution before Canada Goose Outlet slagging off Canada Goose Jackets their corner cafe. buy canada goose jacket
cheap Canada Goose Secondly, a review must identify a person directly or indirectly in order for someone to be able to sue for defamation. A generic Facebook rant about “how bad restaurants are in blah suburb” will not meet the requirements of “identification”. cheap Canada Goose
canada goose coats These barriers are not insurmountable. In 2014, a group of restaurateurs were awarded more than $600,000 in damages for a defamatory review in The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax stood by the critic who made the harsh review, which remained online for years. cheap Canada Goose While the average rant on Zomato won’t cause a restaurant to close down, this case illustrates that an expression of opinion about buy canada goose jacket a business can have very serious consequences. canada goose coats
What to do if you’re suedTake it seriously. See a lawyer.
In 2017, Sydney surgeon Munjed Al Muderis was awarded $480,000 damages for a defamatory online campaign of abusive reviews by a former patient and the patient’s brother. There was no evidence of any medical negligence or wrongdoing, and the size of the damages award was partly attributable to the poor conduct of the defendants they failed to participate in the proceedings.
Canada Goose Parka Having been served with a defamation claim, a lawyer may advise that canada goose factory sale you’re protected by defences to defamation. For example, a defence is available if your review is substantially true; or if you have expressed an honest opinion on a matter of public interest, and your opinion is based on proper material. Canada Goose Parka
canada goose clearance sale These defences might allow you to defend a trial, but they will not necessarily prevent you from being sued. They also come with practical challenges: for example, the reviewer, rather than reviewee, must prove the substantial truth of the canada goose black friday sale publication. While your lawyer is dealing with those challenges, you will be dealing with your lawyer’s bills. Defending defamation is expensive, even if you win. canada goose clearance sale
What if your review was anonymous?Not all review platforms require you to disclose your identity. A recent example is Rate My Boss, a website created by union United Voice, which allows workers to review their employers anonymously. Anonymity makes sense from the workers’ perspective.
Canada Goose Outlet From the employers’ perspective, the anonymity problem may be avoided by pursuing the publishers of the website rather than the Canada Goose Online reviewer. Canada Goose Outlet
canada goose store A disgruntled reviewee may go one step further and uk canada goose outlet go after the internet giants canada goose uk shop that link people to defamatory content. These intermediaries have much deeper pockets and the practical ability to prevent something from being accessed. canada goose store
Whether Google should be responsible as “publisher” of its search engine content is about to be tested in the High Court.
canada goose deals As for you, the reviewer: if you have been particularly nasty in an anonymous review, the reviewee may litigate to find out who you are. The context is different, but the anxiety felt by those Matthew McConaughey fans demonstrates that online naughtiness is not as anonymous as we might think. canada goose deals
If you play the ball, not the man; if you focus on what you actually experience, rather than making grandiose claims; and if you focus on the truthful aspects of a product or service in a harsh but fair review, you are less likely to fall afoul of defamation law canadian goose jacket.