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Commercial Litigation > Online Review Defamation

Protecting your business from defamatory or fake reviews

For any business, whether online or brick and mortar, online reviews are a critical way for customers to decide whether or not they will purchase your products or services. For this reason, it is critical to make sure you take action whenever a customer is either telling lies, or is not even a customer of yours in the first place.

Negative reviews based on false statements can not only damage a potential customer’s decision to do business with you, resulting in a loss of sales, but they will also often result in your business losing search priority. That means that people typing in relevant words in search will have a much harder time finding you, as search engines like Google or Bing will deprioritize your site because of the perceived negative customer experience.

Fake or defamatory online business reviews amount to online defamation. Canadian courts understand this, and have been clamping down in recent times. This is because they recognize that it is more than just your reputation at stake, but also whether your site gets customer traffic. And for businesses, a lack of site visitors can be detrimental.

What qualifies as online defamation?

While bad reviews are not legally actionable, defamatory (false) reviews are against the law. That’s where we come in. We have successfully recovered monetary damages in a number of cases where online reviews negatively impacted a business, in addition to securing court injunctive orders for a person or entity to remove the review in question. You can determine is it is just a bad review or whether it is defamation like this:

A negative review is an honest impression communicated by a real customer who had a negative experience. They tried the product or service you offer and did not like it as an opinion of fact. This is NOT legally actionable.

Defamation is a false statement presenting as true which causes injury or damage to the reputation of a person, entity, or business. An example would be if the person was never a customer, but makes claims about their experience or products purchased that can be proven as false statements.  Or if someone who had a negative experience encouraged their friends, family or another third party to write negative things about your business, but none of those people did business with you directly. Defamation IS legally actionable, and with the proper paper trail, we will have a strong chance at success.

Injunctive relief and damages

Online defamation is a complex area of the law, and we use our 40+ years of litigation experience to offer you a frank assessment of your case, and how we can help you resolve it. Litigation doesn’t have to be expensive. 

Oftentimes, we can resolve it with a legal letter to the appropriate party as a warning to take down the defamatory statements and restore your business’ integrity. In our experience, they are not likely to deny this request. That’s because going to court and losing means they are also responsible for your legal costs, in addition to paying damages. And they will still have to remove the defamatory post. And if we do go to court, know that you have the best team on your side.

Find out how we can assist you

If you know who the person or entity is that is defaming you with false or misleading online reviews, and you want to discuss whether your situation qualifies for injunctive relief and/or damages (general, special or out of pocket costs), contact J.F. Lalonde or Andrew Donaldson at (613) 232-5773. Or you can arrange a consultation using our online form below and we’ll help you recover your reputation and costs.