False, Inaccurate & Spurious Reviews

Over the years we have received both positive and negative reviews on the platform Google Reviews. As a law firm it is often very difficult to respond to the negative ones as:

• We are bound by professional ethics and data protection laws.

• Some of the negative reviews are written by individuals who are not clients of the company.

Only one of the negative reviews (to date), have formally complained about the service they received. That complaint dated from 2016 and yet the 1 star review was left in 2021. The individual did not take the complaint to the Ombudsman, which they had every right to do if they were still unhappy. As a company we strongly refute the content of this review which we believe is false.

However, we also know that negative feedback and complaints can help us to improve our service and, if required, offer opportunities to provide additional training or support for members of the team.

Given that an increasing number of people make ‘purchase’ decisions based on the reviews they see online, then a company’s financial future can be seriously damaged if those looking put more emphasis on the negative reviews they see. It might explain why we see more thumbs up on the negative reviews than on the positive ones.

A recent court case (Dudley v Phillips) resulted in the High Court ordering a final injunction and damages of £10,000 against the defendant. The case was a defamation and data protection claim arising out of ‘reviews’ published online falsely accusing the claimant of fraud, financial incompetence and various forms of wrongdoing of a sexual nature. As well as the financial and costs award the third party review websites were ordered to remove the associated content.

Individuals need to be aware that reviews left on third party websites like Google or on social media platforms can be disputed. Further action, as with Dudley v Phillips, may be taken by individuals and companies if the reviews are considered to be factually incorrect, false or spurious. Damages could be awarded up to the amount of £40,000.