Read your great article about libel https://seqlegal.com/blog/10-things-you-should-know-about-libel. Very insightful. Thank you.
However, this article got me concerned because I wrote a negative product review about a online software company based in the UK. I think the review website is US based but I’m not sure.
I’m very sure everything I wrote is factual but if I didn’t misinterpret, I can still be sued. I merely stated all the facts of the case and explain why I’m dissatisfied with their service. I said they are irresponsible and I caution others. I gave them a poor rating. My intention was to give others considering the product more information to consider.
I live overseas and has no residence in the UK but according to your article, I can still be sued. My question is which court has jurisdiction? Do I have any reason to worry?
I tried to delete the post but couldn’t. I wrote to the product review website to delete the post but haven’t heard back from them yet.
Alasdair Taylor's Answer
This sort of review can be defamatory of the product owner, and may also constitute the tort of “slander of goods” (a particular sort of the tort of malicious falsehood).
If you can prove the truth of the (defamatory) facts that you included in the review, then in respect of those facts, you should have a defence of justification.
If you can prove that the (defamatory) opinions in the review are reasonably based upon facts which you can prove to be true, then in respect of those opinions, you should have a defence of fair comment.
These two defences protect against a claim for slander of goods in the same way that they protect against a claim in defamation.
Even if there is an actionably liable, it may be difficult for the company in question to enforce a judgment overseas – e.g. the US courts will not enforce UK libel judgments.
(This is the position under the current law, which will change when the Defamation Act 2013 comes into force – this is expected to happen soon.)