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Can I Sue Someone for Posting a Defamatory Review of my Business?

Can I Sue Someone for Posting a Defamatory Review of my Business?

Defamatory reviews can be damaging to your business - here’s what you can do.

22nd November 2018

With the rise of social media and online review websites such as Google, Yelp and TripAdvisor, businesses rely a lot on consumer reviews as a legitimate marketing technique. While positive reviews can generate new and regular customers, negative ones can severely affect your business. Sometimes reviews can constitute defamation. Here’s how to identify defamation and what to do if someone’s posted a defamatory review of your business.

What is Defamation?

Defamation occurs when (usually) false information is publicised that attacks someone’s reputation. It is covered under the Defamation Act 2005. Defamation can be in the form of:

  • Oral statements
  • Written statements
  • Illustrations
  • Internet posts
  • Social media posts
  • Videos, film and TV

The statements must be defamatory, publicised to an external party, and must be about a particular party. If a case of defamation is brought, an objective test will be applied to prove it was defamatory. The test usually involves looking at the supposed defamation through the eyes of an ordinary reasonable person who has no inside knowledge of the context.

Sometimes you may think you have a case of defamation when it is not. If the statements made are the truth, an example of honest opinion, or fair comment, then they may not constitute defamation. A defamatory review has to be untruthful.

What can you do?

You can generally only sue for defamation of a business if you are a small corporation. This means you employ less than 10 workers. Companies are able to sue for loss of reputation because defamation can be detrimental to this. However, unlike individual people, a company cannot sue for injury to feelings or dignity. You may also be able to sue as an individual if you can prove the defamatory review made against your business affected your own reputation.

For your company, the false representations or incorrect information need to have caused damage to your business’s reputation. Others involved in publishing the defamatory material may also be liable.

There are many remedies if you happen to win a case for defamation. The court may issue an injunction to prevent the author from publishing anymore defamatory material about your company. They may also order them to withdraw their previous statements. They could also issue an apology or provide general compensatory damages or aggravated compensatory damages.

Defamation can sometimes be so serious that they cause the demise of your company. Being informed of your options is a good way to protect yourself from this. A successful case against defamation could award you up to $355, 500 in damages. Contact a defamation lawyer to find out how you can make a claim.

Don’t know where to start? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800529728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace.

Author
Akira Singh

Akira is a legal intern at Lawpath working in the content team. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws at Macquarie University.