A couple, who have legally failed in their attempt to force TripAdvisor reveal the identity of the writers of two negative online reviews, say they are mentally exhausted by the experience.
Martin and Jacqui Clark’s request for a disclosure order to force TripAdvisor provide the requested information to enable them to sue for defamation was rejected at the Court of Sessions in Edinburgh.
Judge Paul Arthurson ruled that the Scots courts had no jurisdiction in the matter after hearing that the Clarks has ticked a box agreeing with TripAdvisors’ terms and conditions outlining that all claims against the company must be heard in the American state of Massachusetts where its headquarters are located.
The Clarks took the legal action following the publication of two reviews in February and March 2012 – concerning their nine-bedroom Tigh na Cheo guest house in Kinlochleven, Inverness-shire – which they claim were false, malicious and resulted in a loss of business.
“We are astounded by the verdict,” said Martin Clark. “To say the court has no jurisdiction in this matter doesn’t make sense when TripAdvisor has offices in London and Oxford. What this is saying is that TripAdvisor is a behemoth that can effectively publish whatever it wants.
“We know that these reviews were false and written by people who didn’t stay in our guest house.”
The Clarks, who bought the business in 2011, do not have the funds to appeal against the court’s decision, but say they would like to see the hospitality industry join together to collectively sue TripAdvisor.
“If every hotel and guest house in the country donated £1, the money could be raised to take on TripAdvisor in the USA to ensure that they will no longer be able to publish garbage and get away with it,” he added.
Martin Clark confirmed that the legal fight against TripAdvisor was one of the reasons that the couple had now decided to put Tigh na Cheo on the market. The sale of the property is being handled by CCL Commercial Sales.