QLD possible defamation claim, queensland

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Miniart

Active Member
4 November 2019
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I am in Queensland. I'm a single Mum of one. I have been threatened with legal action for 'defamation' over a Google review I wrote after a very bad experience at a small tattoo business.
I look at the review I wrote now and can see what they took major issue with. I made the mistake of putting out there my opinion that perhaps the male who served me there was on drugs or could have been in the past - this was because of the way he was extremely antsy and aggressive and seemed to snap unexpectedly in the middle of a regular conversation over a minor misunderstanding.
I was very upset and quite shocked at the way I was treated and a couple of days later put up this review.
Straight after the incident they had emailed me with a very aggressive message claiming I myself was probably a 'drug abuser' and behaved badly, (untrue, but of course they want to make me look bad) and that they would gather their other 4 people and they would all attest to this, pulling together with a story :( Sadly, I had had nobody with me as I went to the business by myself so don't have any 'witness' to what happened to me. I replied to those emails reminding them that I had apologised in the store for any misunderstanding but the man didn't hear me because he was too busy barking aggressively over the top of me, also that I had every right to put up a review of my experience and opinion since I was so shocked by it. I told them that these emails were harassment. Then I got another email where they claimed: 'Your negative Google review won't affect our business whatsoever!' which seems to be an admission that they know that the few views those reviews gained wouldn't do anything to damage them.
I got another email but didn't open it for a week out of anxiety.
This last email said that part of my review was 'defamatory' and I had committed a crime and that they would 'seek legal counsel regarding this matter'. I had no idea what I had written could be considered a crime of defamation; it was simply my experience and that I wondered if the man who served could have or might have in the past, been on drugs because of his behaviour towards me. Obviously I would never want to commit a crime and I immediately deleted my review.
I'm wondering what you think these people could do to me. I had been harassed by these people after being verbally abused at their workplace. Am I likely to lose my life savings from a defamation suit over a single sentence in a review that stayed up for only a week and was written as my own opinion?
How much would it potentially cost them to take matters to the point where they could sue for a large amount of money?
Would you think they would be likely to be able to afford it and take it that far?
I am feeling very scared at this point.
I haven't responded or engaged with them since the initial email after their initial harassing one.
I'm very scared at the moment.
 

Rod

Lawyer
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27 May 2014
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Have you received a 'concerns notice' from them? If not, no legal action is going to commence for civil defamation.

I doubt a tattoo parlour (or any other small business) will go to the police to claim criminal defamation. If they do, it is unlikely the police will act on it. The police generally have more important matters to deal with.

Probably best to ignore everything from them. If they don't ease up, maybe apply for a peace and good behaviour order, see this page: Applying for protection

Am I likely to lose my life savings from a defamation suit over a single sentence in a review that stayed up for only a week and was written as my own opinion?
Unlikely.

Would you think they would be likely to be able to afford it and take it that far?
Unlikely, but my opinion is based solely on them being a small business.

Relax and stop stressing.
 
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Miniart

Active Member
4 November 2019
7
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31
Thanks so much for your reply.
I didn't think they would go to the police, but to a defamation-specialised lawyer. That could easily get to court if they went to one of them?
 

Miniart

Active Member
4 November 2019
7
0
31
I haven't received any concerns notice from them yet, but based on how nasty they have been I'm expecting one of those, or worse. Some summons to court maybe? Also it's only been just over a week since their email and so I would expect that being a busy business they wouldn't easily be able to find time for visiting a lawyer, so it might take them a bit more time to organise that. So I'm stressing in the meantime because I have no idea how long it could take them.
What would be the worst case scenario in this case in terms of what they could sue me for, considering I'm on Centrelink, a single mum and the nature of the words in the review, how long it was left up (week), how many views it had (45 apparently)?
I feel like I just need to know what is the worst it could cost me if they were able to sue me.
:(
 

Rod

Lawyer
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27 May 2014
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You will not get a summons to court as a first step - IF they do anything.

Worst case scenario is you are found guilty, asked to pay a token amount plus legal fees, then you say you are on Cth benefits and can only afford $10/fortnight.

I can't see the worst case scenario happening.
 

Miniart

Active Member
4 November 2019
7
0
31
That's very reassuring! There are some really scary scenarios flying around my head.
They have threatened legal action twice, once via email and the other via messenger (they actually sought out my Facebook which isn't even under my actual first and last name so they went digging somehow?).
The other question I had is about whether I should issue a formal apology or about alternative methods of resolving things. Or maybe I offer to pay a compensatory amount that is within my limits.
Thank you for all your help so far!
 

Atticus

Well-Known Member
6 February 2019
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I wouldn't be communicating with them at all at this point... Certainly not accepting fault & offering compensation... I would just be waiting to see if they escalate it & then looking at options.
 

Scruff

Well-Known Member
25 July 2018
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2,389
NSW
As Rod explained, Police action is highly unlikely. Furthermore, this...
'Your negative Google review won't affect our business whatsoever!'
...pretty much kills any chance of winning a civil case. I doubt any lawyer would waste their time on it once they see that.

On a totally unrelated note, being a good judge of character can be difficult at times. ;)
 

Miniart

Active Member
4 November 2019
7
0
31
Yes, Scruff, in their emails this is exactly what they actually wrote. Then almost as an afterthought they must have thought, 'Hey, we could actually sue for this comment! Let's do it!' which shows to me that they are possibly litigious and are going to try and get money out of me. Do you really think that that comment they made carries some weight in my favour then?

I sure hope you're right, that I won't lose my life savings because I put up my shocking experience and opinion, however in poor taste and defamatory my one comment in the review was. :(
 

Scruff

Well-Known Member
25 July 2018
817
126
2,389
NSW
It shows that in their own opinion, there won't be any financial loss or any other negative effect to their business. That's a huge problem for them if they sue, especially since the review was removed and not seen by many people - if any at all.

I doubt they'll go through with anything, so don't stress over it. Talk like this is usually just a game and the winner is whoever causes the most stress. So if you just sit back and enjoy the fact that you got under their skin, you win.

In the unlikely event that you do receive something from a lawyer, then cross that bridge when you come to it. In the meantime, do your best victory dance.
 
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