A woman is being threatened with legal action for leaving a one-star restaurant review on TripAdvisor.
Sarah Gardner filed the negative review after eating at High Rocks (pictured) in the town of Tunbridge Wells, Kent. It describes itself “one of the most attractive venues in the south east of England.”
Part-time nurse Ms Gardner claimed staff were rude to her when she tried to book a table. She also described the food as ‘mediocre’.
Soon after publishing her opinion, which has been removed, Ms Gardner received a letter from London law firm Cohen Davis. It’s been reported that it plans to take the case to the High Court.
In an 11-page warning to Ms Gardner, the law firm stated: ‘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.’
It demanded that Ms Gardner provided evidence confirming the date of her visits to High Rocks, who she was with, plus a receipt.
Ms Gardner told the Daily Mirror that she is ‘a nervous wreck’ and described her review as ‘pretty innocuous’.
However, she is refusing to back down. She has written to Cohen Davis quoting the former UK Justice minister Shailesh Vara, who said in 2013 that libel law changes ‘will make it harder for wealthy people or companies to bully or silence those who may have fairly criticised them or their products’.
Cohen Davis, which is owned by Yair Cohen, replied: ‘We note your purported defences of “honest opinion” or “truth”. This, of course, is a matter for you to prove.’
The firm also requested that Ms Gardner hand over copies of messages which she exchanged with other internet users about her review – assuming she did so.
The letter ended: ‘If you have not done so we urge you to obtain independent professional legal advice’.
Ms Gardner replied: ‘I posted an honest review. Your client could have chosen to engage with it and leave their own comment beneath, which would have given their version of events. Instead they pursued the nuclear option of threatening litigation.’
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’.
Wasn’t life much simpler before TripAdvisor was invented?