UK Law Firm’s libel claim over Trustpilot reviews rejected by High Court

The Law Society Gazette reports

The High Court has struck out a libel claim from a Leeds firm which claimed to have lost out on work through defamatory online reviews.

Debt recovery specialist BW Legal had sued website Trustpilot over 20 reviews that brought down its overall rating.

The firm said the hostile reviews had caused the loss of a potential £3.7m in profit from a potential contract to provide debt services for telecoms company Three.

His Honour Judge Lewis, sitting as a judge of the High Court in BW Legal Services Ltd v Trustpilot A/S, granted summary judgment in favour of the website, saying the firm had not been able to show how any bad reviews had caused serious financial loss.

The judge added: ‘Given the volume of negative reviews published on the defendant’s website at the relevant time, it seems improbable that the claimant will be able to show that any loss (or likely loss) it has suffered was caused by a specific publication.’

The firm had wanted damages of between £10,000 and £50,000, an injunction and an order on Trustpilot to publish a summary of the court’s judgment.

BW Legal had sued Trustpilot over 20 reviews that brought down its overall rating

The website’s defence was that it was not a publisher, each review was based on honest opinion and was a matter of public interest. None of the 20 reviews caused ‘serious harm’ to the firm’s reputation.

The court heard that Three had explained, among its reasons for not selecting BW Legal’s contract bid, was that the company was ‘concerned by the feedback that we reviewed on Trustpilot’.

But when the firm asked for a review of the decision, Three was complimentary about its credentials and did not mention the online reviews further. The defence pointed out that only three of the 20 reviews in question had actually been published when the tender decision was made. Furthermore there was no evidence that anybody at Three had read these specific negative reviews subject to the legal case.

The claimant’s witness statement said it was ‘axiomatic that publishing these seriously defamatory statements… will be damaging to the reputation of the claimant and that a firm of solicitors reputation is crucial in its commercial success’.

The judge said that the firm had not been able to prove a link between Three’s decision and the reviews.

Even if the claimant could show that there would have been a real and substantial chance that Three would have acted in a particular way – which the judge said seemed extremely unlikely – it would still need to prove on the balance of probabilities that one of the three reviews caused it to lose that chance.



Read all their reviews at trust pilot !

This is the sort of thing you’ll read