Business Reputation and Online Reviews
Business reputation is important but can be quickly damaged with subsequent financial losses if online review platforms provide negative feedback.
In some cases if the feedback is unfair and misleading it can be challenged. If a call to the client or customer fails and you cannot deal with it personally and amicably then a specialist solicitor is often needed.
In one recent case an angry review against a company resulted in a successful £25,000 damages claim by the company against the reviewer when it was found that his misleading negative review affected business.
In Summerfield Browne Ltd v Waymouth, it was claimed that business was affected and a ‘substantial’ number of clients did not use the firm as it was believed they were put off by a negative review on Trustpilot. In this case an unhappy client said the law firm, with several offices in the south of England, had been ‘a total waste of money another scam solicitor’.
Damages and Defamation
The firm issued libel proceedings in respect of general damages, special damages and sought an order to have the defamatory review taken down from Trustpilot.
It was said that the client did not explain his issues to the firm or use their grievance procedure. Giving summary judgement, Master David Cook said: ‘There is supportive evidence that the number of enquiries fell dramatically after the review was posted. Given the manner in which the claimant conducts its business, I conclude that a substantial number of potential clients were put off.’
It was deemed that it was not appropriate for the matter to proceed to full trial and the ‘client’ had to pay damages, costs and the review was to be taken down.
“Online reviews whether it’s a Google review, Feefo, Trustpilot, Trip Advisor, or even Yelp all contribute to business success, but as in this case the odd rogue review can lead to reputational damage,” said specialist legal adviser Asa Cocker.
As more and more of our lives operate online companies can succeed or fail on the basis of online reputation. However as business owners how can you tackle a misleading and potentially destructive review left online for all potential customers to see?
Managing business reputation and acting quickly in cases of defamation has never been more important. As Winston Churchill once said “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on,” and that was before the ubiquitous smart phone and a world of online platforms.
Research suggests that over 85% of purchasers research the internet for reviews and feedback before making a purchase and 70% of potential customers will not make an inquiry if they read negative mentions of a brand or company.
Our specialist solicitors are able to advise you in relation to any misleading or defamatory statement which has been published and help avoid the risk to your business. We can assist with the effective removal of the statement and protect your reputation.Subscribe to our newsletter
Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.
This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.