In business, reputation is everything. A string of good reviews can see customers coming through your door for years. A single bad review can put a significant dent in progress.
That being said, people are entitled to express their opinions freely. However, there is an exception. People cannot damage the reputation of your business with malicious falsehoods. This is generally referred to as defamation.
What does business defamation look like?
Statements must usually be in writing
As with all legal cases, evidence is key. This is why defamatory statements should be in writing. This way, there is a written record of the defamatory statement. Importantly, the statement or statements must be published. In other words, someone other than the author must have seen them.
Statements must be false
A bad review or negative statement is not actionable in itself. Even if you don’t agree with the statement, people are entitled to their opinions.
However, if a damaging statement is blatantly false, it could be actionable in law. For example, if someone has published a written review on your restaurant, falsely claiming that you positioned customers, this is defamation.
Damages must be quantifiable
To have a valid defamation case, your company must have suffered some financial harm. For instance, if your clients started canceling contracts on mass after reading a defamatory statement. This would show a quantifiable loss to your company.
Defamation is a serious issue and it’s not something that you have to put up with. False and damaging statements can be difficult to shake off. Seek legal guidance to assess your options in terms of remedying the situation.