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Are negative reviews a form of defamation? 

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2023 | Defamation

Business owners are often unhappy to get negative reviews. In fact, there have even been cases where businesses have sued those who have left these reviews. They claimed that the negative reviews had such an impact on their reputation that they lost customers and that it impacted their overall sales. They wanted compensation for these economic damages, along with the removal of the reviews.

But can businesses really sue over someone’s opinion about their products or services? How can they claim that a negative review is a form of defamation?

The review needs to be honest

The key lies in whether or not the review is honest and truthful, and whether or not it has been left maliciously. It could be a form of defamation if the review is dishonest and it intentionally harms the company’s reputation. But if the person just had a negative experience with the product or service, they are fully within their rights to express their opinions and discuss the negative experience in a review.

For instance, someone may buy a new car and be unhappy with the way that drives or how comfortable it is, and criticizing these qualities of their new vehicle is not defamation. That’s just the experience they had and it shows that the car didn’t live up to their expectations. But if they invent complaints about how they think the car is dangerous and write that it has many defects that could cause an accident – know that isn’t true – then it could be defamation. The negative review is not based on fact. It certainly could harm the company’s reputation and hurt overall sales if others read and believe that inaccurate review.

Situations like this can get very complicated. Those involved need to know about the legal options at their disposal.