Court Orders Removal of Fake Reviews Posted by Anonymous Reviewer

Gilbertson Davis LLPBusiness Defamation, Business Litigation, Civil Liability, Civil Litigation, Cyber Libel, Defamation, Harassment, Internet Defamation, Libel, Norwich Order, Online Defamation, Online Defamation, Online Harassment0 Comments

In Obsidian Group Inc. v. Google LLC, 2022 ONSC 848, the moving party brought a motion, prior to commencing its civil proceeding, for an interim injunction requiring the removal of certain messages about it posted on its Google review page by a pseudonymous reviewer. It also sought a Norwich Order (an order requiring an innocent third party to provide certain information) directing the respondent to divulge identifying information regarding the unknown reviewer.

The court found that there were “strong grounds for suspecting that” the reviews are fake. The court also found that it “would not surprise anyone” given the content of the reviews that they are “causing continuous damage” to the business of the applicant. The reviews seem “designed to discourage people from ever booking a room at the hotel” of the applicant.

Further, according to statistics provided by the applicant, the reviews were “accessed several thousand times since they were first posted roughly a month ago”.

Based on the above findings, the court had no hesitation in granting the Norwich Order sought by the applicant and the interim injunction.

Interestingly, the court opined that on such pre-litigation motions, the motion must generally be served personally on the respondent. However, in this particular case the court found that email service was sufficient because the respondent had provided an email for receipt of such claims and because the respondent “has obviously done a cost-benefit analysis and concluded that it is preferable to be contacted by email rather than by delivery of documents to its corporate offices, including in instances of civil litigation”.

N.B. On such pre-litigation motions, the moving party is typically required to provide an undertaking to the court that if the court grants the relief it seeks, then it will forthwith issue a Statement of Claim to commence proceedings. Further, on motions for interim injunctive relief, the moving party is typically required to provide an undertaking to pay the damages that may arise to the responding party, or other parties, if the injunctive relief is granted.

To learn more, see our online defamation webpage, our online takedown webpage, our injunction webpage, and our blog on internet harassment.

At Gilbertson Davis LLP, our lawyers can assist in matters involving the removal of defamatory and fake material from the internet. Our lawyers can represent you, your business, company, partnership or corporation in your defamation dispute, whether you are the person being defamed or the alleged defamer. Such representation may include claims or the defence of claims for particular losses or damages additional to damages for defamation itself. Gilbertson Davis LLP lawyers have experience in Defamation, Civil Litigation, Business Torts, Business Litigation, Arbitration and Mediation matters and can assist you in resolving your legal issues in a timely and cost-effective manner. Our mission is to provide creative, sensible, cost-effective, long-term resolutions to clients on defamation disputes. Please contact Gilbertson Davis LLP to schedule a consultation.

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