Over the past few years, consumers’ reliance on the information that they can determine about a business online has increased.
Where, several years ago, we may have received a recommendation, or a warning, about a business via ‘word of mouth’ from friends or family, many people in the market for particular products or services now carefully read reviews of the business that they find online – particularly on Google.
Many of us take these reviews as unbiased testimonials from past customers of a business’ quality before we purchase their products or services.
While often the reviews are honest, whether good or bad, defamatory or unreasonable online reviews including Google reviews, can be a great source of frustration for the business or individuals providing professional services.
These reviews can greatly influence people seeking these professional services and have a negative impact on your business.
However, since a recent Court decision, if this happens to you in your business, you may now have the grounds for recourse against the reviewer.
The Victorian County Court recently awarded damages, including exemplary damages and indemnity legal costs, to a periodontist who was the subject of a defamatory Google review by a former patient.
While cases such as these and particularly defamation cases each turn on their own facts, this case demonstrates that the Court can find that Google reviews can be defamatory and that such reviews or posts can cause substantial economic loss and damage to a person and their business.
In this case, the Court can order that such loss be borne by the individual who wrote the defamatory post or review.
If you’d like to find out more about this particular case, the Victorian County Court’s decision can be found here. You can also read a more substantial review of the case in The Age newspaper article found here.
If you have any questions about this ruling or would like to discuss your specific circumstances, please don’t hesitate to contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 07 3220 1144.
The information in this blog is intended only to provide a general overview and has not been prepared with a view to any particular situation or set of circumstances. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. While we attempt to ensure the information is current and accurate we do not guarantee its currency and accuracy. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the information in this blog as it may not be appropriate for your individual circumstances.