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Guesthouse goes to Supreme Court to unmask malicious reviewers

26 January 2015 by
Guesthouse goes to Supreme Court to unmask malicious reviewers

The owners of a guesthouse in the Scottish Highlands who have been plagued by what they claim are false and malicious reviews on the online reviews website TripAdvisor, are to take their case to the Supreme Court in a bid to unmask the culprits.

The lawyers of Martin and Jacqui Clark, who run the Tigh na Cheo bed and breakfast in Kinlochleven, Lochaber, are expected to lodge papers in the court in London this week after a wealthy benefactor stepped in to help them, according to the Sunday Times.

The anonymous benefactor's move helps to fund a last legal action by the Clarks, who have been trying unsuccessfully to identify the authors of "fictitious" online reviews that were posted under pseudonyms shortly after they took over the guesthouse in 2011. The Clarks hope to learn the identities of the reviewers so they can sue for defamation.

So far the court of session in Edinburgh has decided not to order TripAdvisor to identify those behind the posts, a decision that was upheld on appeal last month.

Meanwhile, TripAdvisor has refused to co-operate. It argues that its headquarters are in the state of Massachusetts and any legal issues must be settled there.

Lawyers acting for the couple will argue TripAdvisor has offices in London and that the Supreme Court is entitled to issue a formal request to the company to disclose information it holds on the identity of the reviewers.

Campbell Deane, from the law firm Bannatyne Kirkwood France and Co, said TripAdvisor would not be legally obliged to comply but the internet firm would find itself in an "awkward spot" if it refused to co-operate.

"My clients are not going after TripAdvisor, but as [it is] a company which has a presence in the UK they find it unacceptable that TripAdvisor has consistently refused to remove the false reviews, or to provide information on who posted them," he told the paper.

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