Business Reputation and Online Reviews

Business Insights

Business reputation is important and hard won however it can be quickly damaged with subsequent financial losses if online review platforms provide negative feedback.

Managing business reputation and acting quickly in cases of defamation has never been more important. As Winston Churchill once said

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on,”

and that was before the ubiquitous smart phone and a world of online platforms.

Research suggests that over 85% of people study the internet for reviews and feedback before making a purchase or using the services of a business and 70% of potential customers will not make an inquiry if they read negative mentions of a brand or company. Similarly companies with no reviews at all are not trusted, so it’s not really something businesses can avoid.

Sometimes though it does not all go according to plan and in some cases if the feedback is unfair and misleading it can be challenged. If a call to the client or customer fails to solve the problem and you cannot deal with it personally and amicably then a specialist solicitor is often needed.

“Online reviews whether it’s a Google review, Feefo, Trustpilot, TripAdvisor, or even Yelp all undoubtedly contribute to business success, but as in a recent case the odd rogue review can lead to reputational and financial damage,”

said specialist legal adviser Asa Cocker, of Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers.

“As more and more of our lives operate online companies can succeed or fail on the basis of online reputation. However as business owners how can you tackle a misleading and potentially destructive review left online for all potential customers to see?”

asked Asa.

Reputational Damage

In one recent case an angry review against a company resulted in a successful £25,000 damages claim by the company against the reviewer when it was found that his misleading negative review affected business.

In Summerfield Browne Ltd v Waymouth, it was claimed that business was affected and a ‘substantial’ number of clients did not use the firm as it was believed they were put off by a negative review on Trustpilot. In this case an unhappy client said the law firm, with several offices in the south of England, had been ‘a total waste of money, another scam solicitor’.

Damages and Defamation

The firm issued libel proceedings in respect of general damages, special damages and sought an order to have the defamatory review taken down from Trustpilot.

It was said that the client did not explain his issues to the firm or use their grievance procedure. Giving summary judgement, Master David Cook said:

‘There is supportive evidence that the number of enquiries fell dramatically after the review was posted. Given the manner in which the claimant conducts its business, I conclude that a substantial number of potential clients were put off.’

It was deemed that it was not appropriate for the matter to proceed to full trial and the ‘client’ had to pay damages, costs and the review was to be taken down.

“We are often called upon for advice in relation to any misleading or defamatory statements which have been published and can help you to avoid the risk to your business. We can assist with the effective removal of the statement and protect your reputation at the same time,”

added Asa.

For information on how to deal with a misleading online review or any aspects of business reputation call Pearson Solicitors Litigation team on 0161 785 3500 or email