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Bad evaluation in online portal: Author must be able to prove facts

Anyone who claims negative facts to the detriment of a company in an online rating portal must prove in case of doubt that these facts are also accurate. If the proof does not succeed, the person concerned can demand that the evaluation be omitted. This was clarified by the 6th Civil Chamber of the Frankenthal Regional Court in a recent ruling. The Board ordered the author of a bad review in an online portal to delete a negative claim contained in his criticism.

A man from Mannheim had commissioned a company from Ludwigshafen to carry out his move. Some time later, he rated the execution of the order on an online rating platform with only one out of five possible stars. Among other things, he claimed in the review text that a piece of furniture had been damaged during transport and that no one had bothered to repair the damage. The owner of the moving company, on the other hand, denies that any damage occurred and sees the customer’s claim that no care was taken as damaging to the reputation of his company.

In its ruling, the chamber upheld the entrepreneur’s claim that the customer’s negative statement on the online rating portal was detrimental to the owner of the moving company. This is in contrast to the customer’s right to freely express his opinion about the order carried out in the evaluation. However, the statement in dispute, that a piece of furniture had been damaged, was not such a protected opinion, but a statement of fact. Because it describes something that is supposed to have really happened. This would only have to be accepted by the rated company if its truthfulness was established. Therefore, in the event of a dispute, the party asserting a fact in Internet ratings would have to prove that this fact is also true. In the opinion of the Chamber, the customer of the moving company had not succeeded in doing so, which is why it granted the company’s action for an injunction in this respect.

The judgment is final.

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Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.


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