Updated February 28, 4:05 PM CT
Restaurant sues over bad rating. (Photo/TripAdvisor)
Updated January 2019
British mum threatened with libel after posting bad review on TripAdvisor
A mother and part-time nurse left a one-star review for posh wedding venue and restaurant "High Rocks", in Tunbridge Wells, southwest of London. Sarah Gardner says she experienced a "rude" and "arrogant" staff and the food was "mediocre at best."
Upon seeing this review the restaurant was offended and decided to pursue legal action against the mom for her negative review.
She was warned she could be "imprisoned or fined" if she didn't send along dates and receipts of all the times she'd dined there. High Rocks wants those records because, after manager Giuseppe Cappellazzi accused Gardner of not dining there during the month she posted the review, she replied she'd based her review on many High Rock experiences she'd had.
Gardner believes her review was honest, but she asked TripAdvisor to take it down and says she's not sure what she'll do if her case is hauled into court.
The letter said: “The material you have posted about our client on TripAdvisor.com is defamatory and therefore unlawful. “Our client will pursue you for aggravated damages to compensate it for the full extent of its financial losses.”
Attached was a draft court injunction which said: “PENAL NOTICE: If you, Sarah Gardner, do not comply with this order you may be held in contempt of court and may be imprisoned or fined.”
But under the 2013 Defamation Act, the responsibility falls on the claimant to prove they’ve endured “serious harm”. The law firm requested copies of Sarah’s private messages with other internet users about the review - which has since been deleted. Sarah replied, again defending her actions, but Cohen Davis isn’t backing down.
The law firm told the Mirror: “It would be highly inappropriate and libelous for your paper to repeat any of Ms. Gardner’s libelous allegations.”
Sarah might not be the only customer who has been threatened after reviewing High Rocks. Another couple claims they removed their bad rating from TripAdvisor after similar correspondence. They told the Mirror: “We were then sent a letter before action by High Rocks’ solicitors threatening to bring proceedings against us for malicious falsehood.”
All of this should make you pause and think before you post that next terrible review. Do you really know what you're talking about when you are reviewing the food? Are you a chef? And I get it, everybody's got opinions, everybody has a camera, but in this day of lawsuits and legal action, you better be prepared to back-up what you say. It really can affect the bottom line of a restaurant if something like this happens, and it goes viral, and they will come after you.
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