Friday, November 21, 2014

Are Bad Reviews Illegal?

I've come across various post online about people who were charged extras, or been threatened, for giving a negative review of a restaurant/hotel etc. In the company's defense,there are false negative reviews out there just as much as false positive ones but to bully a costumer to get good reviews ins't the way to go.

But is it illegal to give bad reviews in Canada?

It depends on whether or not your review was based on your honest opinion. According to Wikipedia ""Defamatory libel" is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code. Subsection 298(1) defines defamatory libel as a "matter published, without lawful justification or excuse, that is likely to injure the reputation of any person by exposing him to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or that is designed to insult the person of or concerning whom it is published." Section 300 prohibits the publication of defamatory libels that the publisher "knows is false." Section 301 prohibits the publication of any defamatory libel, but this section has been found unconstitutional because it could criminalize the publication of matters that are true."

In other words, if the sole purpose of your review was to hurt the company - they could bring you to court for injuring their reputation. After all, you can't just go around saying everything sucks when it isn't true.
If, on the other hand, your experience was a bad one then you should be able to share it however you choose. A movie critic, who didn't like a movie he saw, can't be arrested for it.
With that being said, many will remove their reviews instead of going through the legal trouble if the company threatens them with it.

Personally, I don't want to do business with companies who pursue, or threatens, those who gave them negative reviews. A company should look into the negative reviews to get better, not to find ways to get back at the customer for what they did.

For more information, please read the Criminal Code of Canada or contact a lawyer.

*I'm not a lawyer, I just did some research online like you're currently doing. Please don't contact me with law related questions. :)


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