With the prevalence of online review platforms, consumers are now doing more due diligence before choosing a service provider or buying a product. In fact, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation when choosing a service provider or product.[i]
Consumers place a lot of trust in reviews which makes this a very important part of a business’s reputation management initiatives. However, there are also instances where competitors or anonymous individuals leave fake and/or negative reviews which can ultimately impact your business’s reputation in a negative way and even lead to loss of revenues.
In situations like this, a business which is the subject of an incorrect review can sue the reviewer for defamation. In fact, in 2017, CTV reported that there have been many cases in recent years of companies suing online reviewers for defamation or libel – and with success.[ii]
Luckily for business owners, there is legal recourse available for those who are affected by defamatory reviews or fake reviews if non-litigious options have failed.
If the identity of the reviewer is known, you may bring a pre-action application for a Norwich Order compelling Google to disclose the reviewer’s name, e-mail address, Internet protocol address and other identifiable information so that a defamation claim may be pursued (see York University v. Bell Canada Enterprises  O.J. No. 3689). Once the individual has been identified, legal counsel may succeed in convincing the reviewer to remove the reviews and settle with minimal costs. However, if the reviewer fails to comply with your request – a claim can be pursued against the reviewer.[iii]
If you are unable to obtain the individual’s identity, you can hire digital forensic experts to help identify the user as well.
Luckily for business owners, legal recourse is available if incorrect or fake reviews have resulted in a loss of business or impacted your business in a negative way. Currently, this is not a coverage DAS provides, however it is still a very important topic of discussion and something we hope to eventually provide coverage for. If someone has left an incorrect or false review of your business – we encourage you to seek legal counsel to review your available legal options.
CTV News Report (2017). Online Reviews Can Get You Sued; Here’s What Not To Do.
Retrieved from: https://www.ctvnews.ca/lifestyle/online-reviews-can-get-you-sued-here-s-what-not-to-do-1.3670405
Winkler and Pond (2017). False and Defamatory Google Reviews? Maybe It’s Time To Take Action. Retrieved