As consumers, we frequently visit popular food and accommodation review websites, such as Urbanspoon, Taste and Trip Advisor. We resort to these sites both to read reviews and to write reviews. These websites are constantly receiving reviews about businesses on their website, and these reviews are not always positive. In fact, many of the reviews are of experiences which can reflect badly on the business owner and ultimately the business’ bottom line. This poses the question as to how defamation law applies, if at all, to authors of these reviews.

Can these businesses take action against the reviewer?

In short, under current Australian law, businesses with fewer than 10 employees may take action in defamation against the author of material posted on these online review websites.

When is a review defamatory?

Consumers of products or services that go out of their way to publish harmful or negative reviews with the purpose of damaging a business may find themselves liable to pay huge penalties. Each case will be different and will depend on the facts.

How do you prove defamation?

It needs to be shown that the review did not reflect the true opinion of its author, but rather was aimed at damaging the reputation of the business. In other words, it must be shown that there existed some malice in writing the review, with the purpose of deterring others from using the service or buying the products.

In New South Wales, for example, a well-known food critic was made to pay $600,000 because of a restaurant review. Although the review appeared in a major print media outlet and not in the online space, it provides food for thought on the kinds of civil penalties those found liable could end up paying.

What to consider when writing an online review?

There are a number of important things to remember when writing an online review about a business:

  • The review is being made available to the world at large, the wording of which should be carefully considered;
  • Make sure it is not published for some hidden agenda;
  • It must accurately reflect the real experience of its author, although this does not mean that comedic relief and expression must be avoided;
  • The consequences, as illustrated above, can be very expensive, depending on the amount of damage the defamed business can prove as a result of the review.


Are you operating a business that has recently been reviewed?

Was this review completely false?

Has your business suffered as a result?

If, after requesting the removal of the review, you have no luck resolving the matter, you should seek legal advice from a business lawyer.

For those reviews that are true and reflect badly on the business, the best advice we could give is to take the criticism on board and take steps to rectify whatever shortcomings the reviewer complained about. If you’d like a free quote for advice, contact LegalVision on 1300 544 755.


COVID-19 Business Survey
LegalVision is conducting a survey on the impact of COVID-19 for businesses across Australia. The survey takes 2 minutes to complete and all responses are anonymous. We would appreciate your input. Take the survey now.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

The majority of our clients are LVConnect members. By becoming a member, you can stay ahead of legal issues while staying on top of costs. For just $199 per month, membership unlocks unlimited lawyer consultations, faster turnaround times, free legal templates and members-only discounts.

Learn more about LVConnect

Need Legal Help? Get a Free Fixed-Fee Quote

If you would like to receive a free fixed-fee quote or get in touch with our team, fill out the form below.

  • By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails from LegalVision and can unsubscribe at any time. See our full Privacy Policy.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Our Awards
  • 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn
  • 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards
  • 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards
  • Most Innovative Law Firm - 2019 Australasian Lawyer 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer
Privacy Policy Snapshot

We collect and store information about you. Let us explain why we do this.

What information do you collect?

We collect a range of data about you, including your contact details, legal issues and data on how you use our website.

How do you collect information?

We collect information over the phone, by email and through our website.

What do you do with this information?

We store and use your information to deliver you better legal services. This mostly involves communicating with you, marketing to you and occasionally sharing your information with our partners.

How do I contact you?

You can always see what data you’ve stored with us.

Questions, comments or complaints? Reach out on 1300 544 755 or email us at

View Privacy Policy