Restaurant Reviewer Liability For Defamation In A Global Context

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Martin A. Goldberg
Christina Reis
MingLun Lee
Kathleen Summa-Rabtoy


Libel, Slander, Defamation, Public Figure, Fair Comment, Restaurant Review, Tort, Liability, First Amendment, Freedom of Speech


A restaurant review may contain statements that the restaurant owners would consider defamatory. While technically there is no bar to a successful defamation suit, there are numerous obstacles, including the opinion nature of the review, the fair comment qualified privilege, and free-speech jurisprudence that requires actual malice before a plaintiff can prevail in a defamation suit against a public figure. In jurisdictions outside of the United States, there are similar restrictions that will also create obstacles to the success of the lawsuit. Although the success of the suit would be more likely under other nations laws, the obstacles still do not rise to the level of a prohibition on such lawsuits. Any business on either side of the dispute the writer/publisher of the review vs. the restaurant and its owners needs to be aware of the evolving law and where a defamation case may or may not be successful. This article examines and discusses obstacles to successful defamation cases in order to provide guidance for businesses that are or may be involved in such litigation.


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