Restaurant threatens legal action over review on TripAdvisor

Pam Mills

Jonathan Banks

A Tunbridge Wells restaurant is threatening legal action for ‘aggravated damages after a customer placed a negative review on TripAdvisor.’

High Rocks manager Giuseppe Cappellazzi has accused the reviewer of having a ‘vendetta’ against his establishment.

He made the comments to the MailOnline after it was revealed in the national press that he had hired the services of London law firm Cohen Davis to pursue the reviewer for ‘aggravated damages’.

The one star review in question was left on March 22 by part-time nurse Sarah Gardner, who states she ‘grew up in the area’. She described the food as ‘mediocre’ and complained of ‘arrogant’ and ‘rude’ staff.

Soon after publishing her review, which has since been taken down, Ms Gardner received a letter from Cohen Davis threatening to take the case to the High Court.

The 11-page letter stated: “The material you have posted about our client on is defamatory and therefore unlawful.

“Our client will pursue you for aggravated damages to compensate it for the full extent of its financial losses.”

It goes on to state that Mrs Gardner, who described her feedback as based on her ‘general experience’ and not relating to a specific occasion, must give details of the dates she attended the restaurant, the details of her guests and receipts.

Failure to comply could see her in contempt of court, they add.

Ms Gardner said she felt the letter was ‘very threatening’ and in the absence of sufficient financial resources would have to defend herself.

Cohen Davis then sent another letter claiming Ms Gardner had to ‘prove’ her review was based on ‘honest opinion’ or ‘truth’, to which she responded: “I posted an honest review. Your client could have chosen to engage with it and leave their own comment beneath, which would have given their version of events. Instead they pursued the nuclear option of threatening litigation.”

But Mr Cappellazzi accused her of ‘fabricating’ the review to hurt his business and said there were ‘two sides to every story’.

He said: “We are the bullied party here. We have never, ever disagreed with someone placing a review. What we object to is a fabrication and a lie.

“She left three low reviews, not one. She took them down because they were false. She’s running a vendetta against us which precedes this.

“We have never, ever disagreed with someone placing a low review. We live in a free society. But one is not entitled to pretend they visited when they didn’t. It’s a fabrication and we are going to take it to court. It is so wrong and so hurtful.”

In a statement to the Times a spokesman for TripAdvisor said: “We believe every customer has a fundamental right to share their genuine experiences with others. Just as you can tell your friends and family about your experience in person, you should have no fear or hesitation to share those same thoughts and opinions with the travel community. As such, we are absolutely against any attempt by a business to stifle the honest feedback of its customers.”

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