Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

Sarah Gardner: Woman Threatened With Jail Over One-Star TripAdvisor Review

Sarah Gardner: Woman Threatened With Jail Over One-Star TripAdvisor Review

Think again, because a law firm has threatened a British woman with legal action after she left a negative TripAdvisor review for its client, a restaurant and wedding venue in Kent called High Rocks.

Ms Gardner told the Daily Mirror that she is "a nervous wreck" and described her review as "pretty innocuous".

The 11-page warning 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'.

And they attached a mocked-up draft of a 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'.

In a Facebook review, posted on The High Rocks' page she described the the dish as "slop". The restaurant's lawyers have reportedly demanded details and proof of her visits, including receipts. In 2013, Vara said that changes to Britain's notorious libel laws would make it more hard for businesses to silence consumers who criticized a business' service or products.

The law firm told the Daily Mirror that it intends to take the case to the High Court and warned the newspaper: "It would be highly inappropriate and libellous for your paper to repeat any of Ms Gardner's libellous allegations".

But under the 2013 Defamation Act, responsibility falls on the claimant to prove they've endured "serious harm".

The letter ended: "If you have not done so we urge you to obtain independent professional legal advice".

However she said she stood by her comments.

As it stands, it seems like High Rocks and their lawyers are still pushing for a libel claim against Sarah, so we made a decision to ask Steve Kuncewicz, Principal Lawyer at Slater and Gordon, a law firm that specialises in defamation law, whether he thinks the restaurant would actually have a leg to stand on in court. I don't know what I'll do if it goes to court.

However, she is refusing to back down.

Giuseppe Cappellazzi said that Gardner did not patronize his establishment on the date that she posted the review.

The restaurant manager said that this was Gardner's third, not first, negative review of his business on TripAdvisor. "They would need to prove that this business either has lost, or is likely to lose money as a result", he added. Gardner didn't indicate why, or even if, she removed the review.

Shortly afterwards she was contacted by a London law firm who claimed her comments were illegal.

Another couple claimed to have removed their review because of a threat by High Rocks' lawyers, but Cohen Davis denied approaching other customers. "It's a fabrication and we are going to take it to court".

Because of this, when writing reviews in future, he advises it's best to make sure you phrase it as opinion instead of fact.

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