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Is criminal and/or civil legal redress available against individuals

Customer Question

Is criminal and/or civil legal redress available against individuals and or companies who knowingly post false and misleading feedback on a website(complainant) with a stated intention of dissuading others from using the services of the complainant
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.

Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

Could you explain your situation a bit more please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

We are Company operating a taxi circuit in Bishops Stortford, we are 100% Hackney Carriage and are regulated by East Herts Council. We accepted a booking for Friday night. The journey started and ended outside of our licensing area. There was no pre-agreement as to price or fare and so the driver carried out the fare "on the meter" as he is legally obliged to do. There was no fault with the service, we were prompt, the car was a 62 plate, the driver was clean tidy and experienced. The passenger e-mailed this morning to say the fare was "excessive" "exorbitant" and a rip off and that other companies could have done it cheaper. We politeley explained the fare was correct and that it could only have (legally) been done cheaper by prior agreement or by a firm from a different licensing area operating a different tariff. Threats followed to commnicate to all and sundry that we are a "rip off" and notices to that effect have been posted on all feedback pages where our listings appear. We urged the party to refer the complaint to the proper authority and provided details for Taxi Licensing. We cautioned that such posting could have a detrimental effect as any alegation of over charging goes to the heart of the integrity of our business. The party merely states that this is free speech.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the information.

He doesnt have a freedom of speech to say things that are untrue. That is defamation.

Truth is a defence to defamation but he will not rely on truth. Its too easy to knock down. What he will argue is that this amounts to fair comment and then he only has to show that its a reasonable comment in all the circumstances. Maybe he could show that. Maybe not. The problem with defamation claims is that they are very expensive costing in excess of £10k to run and probably he couldn't pay the award anyway.

It might be though that you could seek an injunction forcing him to remove the comments and not to repeat them. That is expensive too but it is cheaper than a full scale defamation claim.

The only crime that may apply is malicious communication but I'm afraid the police would say its a civil matter and you should see solicitors.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.

Jo
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 2 years ago.
Hello,

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Thank you,
Nicola

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