The High Court gave judgment on Friday, 6th March 2015, in a claim by the Bussey Law Firm PC of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and its principal Timothy Bussey, over a defamatory fake review posted online via the Google Maps service. The Judge (Sir David Eady, sitting as a Judge of the High Court) said the untrue review was “calculated to cause serious harm to the Claimants and, in particular, to Mr Bussey’s personal reputation and to his legal practice”.

The increasingly pervasive practice of payment for fake reviews has been a growing concern in the retail, hospitality and professional services sectors. This appears to be the first time that a case has been successfully pursued to trial in this country in respect of such a review, which the judge concluded was likely to have been posted in return for payment and without any belief in the truth of its content.  

Mr Bussey and his firm were awarded substantial damages (which they had voluntarily agreed to cap at £50,000) as well as their legal costs. Will Richmond-Coggan, the solicitor-advocate who acted for Bussey throughout, said today that: “This was a difficult and challenging case, and Pitmans LLP are delighted to have been able to assist our client to reach this successful outcome.”

He continued: “This is a decision with significant implications for businesses in a wide-range of sectors, who until now have been resigned to being the victims of this type of anonymous online attack without feeling that they had any way of fighting back. The Bussey Law Firm were determined to establish the principle that there is a remedy for this type of underhanded marketing strategy, and the result was a just reward for their commitment to vindicating their reputation.