Take Legal Action Against False Online Reviews
Advertising has drastically changed in recent years thanks to the internet and online reviews are now extremely important to a business’ success. Many consumers base their purchasing decisions on online reviews. Businesses no longer have a choice to overlook online reviews. Online reviews are everywhere, they are easy to access and they are powerful. A positive review can greatly benefit your business, while a negative review can drastically harm your business. When you find false reviews, you can take legal action against defamatory online reviews. Defamation is when someone makes false statements that hurt you or your companies reputation. Slander is when defamation is in the form of spoken words. Libel is when the defamatory statement is written, such as on an online post. In Albert a we have provincial legislation for defamation. It is the Defamation Act.
It is crucial for business owners to know the actions to take when a false negative review is posted about their business. Connect with our litigation team if you are the victim of a defamatory negative review. Kahane Law Office is ready to take immediate legal action against defamatory online reviews to protect your business’ reputation and ultimately, to protect your business’ success. We have firms in both Calgary and Edmonton. In order to save you money, this lets us use the most cost effective lawyer for your matter no matter when you live in Alberta!
Steps In Dealing With Negative False Reviews
There are a number of things a person can do immediately, without a lawyer to deal with defamatory online reviews. These include:
Respond to the Review
You should respond to the false review as soon as possible. Responding to the review (even false reviews) makes it clear to other customers that you care about customer service and the experience that customers have when dealing with your business. It also shows that you are committed to improving customer service and take negative reviews seriously.
Flag the Review (for Google reviews)
Notify Google that their review policy has been violated. You can do this by clicking on the flag icon beside the date of the review. This will take you to Google’s “report a policy violation page” where you fill out the required information.
You can also have multiple people flag the review.
Contact Google Directly
Wait a couple of days after flagging the review. If the person fails to remove the review, contact Google directly through your Google “My Business” page. Under the Support section you can fill in your contact information and request that Google contact you. We have successfully had defamatory negative reviews removed in this manner. If in violation of its policies, or if the review is blatantly, on its face, not a real review, Google has been very proactive and positive to work with.
Legal Action Against Defamatory Online Reviews
Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to have Google intervene and remove a false review for you. This is because Google receives thousands of complaints every day regarding false reviews. Google is not required to fact check every complaint to determine if a review is in fact false. When dealing with a false review, keep in mind that formal legal action will likely be required. You may then have to proceed with the following legal action against defamatory online reviews:
Send a Demand Letter: Step One For Legal Action Against Defamatory Online Reviews
Contact the person who posted the false review directly and ask that they remove the review because it is false. We best accomplish this through a demand letter. A demand letter will outline your position on the review and state why the review is false. A demand letter imposes a deadline for the removal of the review. If the review is not removed by the deadline, the demand letter informs the individual that a law suit will be filed against them the following day. You may send a demand letter on your own or hire a lawyer to do so. Demand letters sent by a lawyer are often more successful as it has indicated that you have retained the lawyer to act for you. Demand letters are often referred to as cease and desist letters.
Typically, demand letters are highly successful. They are a required first step when dealing with fake reviews. Often, a demand letter keeps legal costs down while obtaining the same result as litigation.
The litigation lawyers at Kahane Law Office are here to help. Our litigation team has had excellent success with demand letters. Do not hesitate to contact us today. We complete most demand letters on a flat rate basis.
LITIGATION: Order for Removal or Defamation Claim
If the demand letter is not successful and the review has not been deleted by the deadline, the next step is litigation. There are two routes you can choose for this next step in legal action against defamatory online reviews: 1) apply for an order requiring the individual to remove the review or 2) file a civil claim against the individual for defamation.
Both routes ask the court to order the removal of the review. The key difference between the two options is that in a defamation claim you are also asking the court to award you a dollar amount for damages that you and/or your business has suffered as a result of the fake review. Applying to the court for an order to remove the review does not allow you to ask for damages as well.
The litigation team at Kahane Law Office can help you choose the best option for your situation.
Requirements For A Defamation Claim?
In order to be successful in a defamation claim, you must establish the following three things about the review:
The Review Contains Defamatory Statements
You have to have evidence that the statements made in the review are false. Evidence of this can be in a variety of forms. You also have to show that the review is defamatory, meaning, it leaves the public with a negative impression of you and/or your business. This means that to the Average Joe, the words are literally defamatory or, they leave the impression of defamation.
Remember, individuals retain the right to express their opinion. A negative review does not mean that the review is false. However, the courts have held that if a consumer is going to publicly express a negative opinion about a business, that opinion needs to be justified.
The Review Refers to You or Your Business
The review has to reference you or your business to give rise to a cause of action. Legal action against defamatory online reviews can only be undertaken by the person or business that has been impacted.
The Person Published The Review
The courts have recognized that posting on Google and social media accounts is publication. In order to establish publication for a defamation claim, you only have to show that one other person saw the review.
Getting Help With Legal Action Defamatory Online Reviews
Need help anywhere in Alberta in dealing with a defamatory review? The litigation lawyers at Kahane Law Office in both Edmonton and Calgary help with legal action against defamatory online reviews. Fast exceptional service when you need it. CONNECT NOW. We can be reached at 403-225-8810, or email us directly here.