High Rocks, a restaurant and wedding venue in Tunbridge Wells in Kent, has hit back after a visitor left a one-star review on TripAdvisor.
As reported by the Mirror, Sarah Gardner visited the restaurant in March and had a less-than satisfactory experience.
She took to TripAdvisor to share her opinion about what she felt was ‘mediocre' food and ‘rude' staff.
Within a week, Gardner received a letter from London law firm Cohen Davis Solicitors instructing her to remove the post which they deemed as defamatory and therefore against the law.
The letter claimed that High Rocks had caused "financial harm worth tens of thousands of pounds" and the firm intends to prepare a High Court claim against Gardner.
Cohen Davis, which is owned by Yair Cohen, provided a statement which says that Gardner "falsely claimed, in three separate TripAdvisor reviews, to have attended our clients' establishment in March 2017 when, on her own admission, she had not."
It continues: "For this reason, her reviews cannot be described as a fair and accurate review of her experience or an honestly held opinion. Ms Gardner's false reviews came about because she was banned from booking our clients' establishment having been extremely rude and offensive to staff over the telephone. Ms Gardner also claimed to have recorded a telephone conversation with our client and his wife but, when pressed to provide us with a copy of the recording (which would undoubtedly have assisted in resolving this matter), Ms Gardner was unwilling or unable to do so. Her false reviews were noted by many potential clients of our client's business and were therefore very damaging to our client's business.
"While our clients, similarly to many other owners of small businesses across the UK, respect the right of customers to publish online reviews of their experiences with the business, when these reviews are false and are not based on a true experience, those business owners are entitled to protect their good reputations and that of their employees. It is our understanding that since we contacted Ms Gardner and pointed out the falsity of her reviews, she has deleted the majority of her defamatory statements from the internet. It is important for all consumers across the UK to know that when they read online reviews in relation to a business, those reviews are based on a genuine experience, otherwise the integrity of the review system will fall apart. For these reasons, our clients have instructed Counsel to prepare a High Court claim against Ms Gardner, which we intend to serve very shortly."
In response to the statement, Gardner told The Caterer: "I was not ‘banned' from the establishment. I was neither offensive, nor did I shout. It was then claimed that I had never visited the establishment, despite me providing proof that I had. I have followed pre-action protocol and supplied evidence; emails, bank statements and photographs, they have provided nothing.
"Mr Cohen is banking on me not contesting the lies, I am unfortunately in this position because of my honesty and unwillingness to continue to be bullied."
Her review has since been removed from the TripAdvisor website. "The reviews were removed due to bullying, not for any other reason." Gardner said.
In 1994, High Rocks took a local newspaper to court about an article reporting a mystery illness that broke out among guests.
The libel claim was thrown out by the High Court judge who found nothing that could be read as libellous in the article published in the Kent and Sussex Courier.
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