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BGH: Google rating only permissible if actually customer

Time and again, there are legal disputes surrounding Google reviews or those on Yelp, Trusted Shops or on travel portals, etc. In the meantime, however, a large number of decisions have resulted and the claims against the providers of rating portals, but also against the raters themselves, are often very clear.

By the way, at the end of last year the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on one of the few remaining open questions, namely whether it is permissible to rate someone on Google if you were not actually a customer of the customer – or whether the company then has a claim against Google for the removal of such a rating.

In this regard, the highest German civil court ruled that in the case of a rating portal (here: hotel rating portal), the complaint of the rated party that a rating was not based on any guest contact was sufficient. In principle, this is sufficient to trigger the review obligations of the rating portal. The rated party is generally not obligated to provide further explanations to the rating portal, in particular a more detailed explanation of its claim of a lack of guest contact. This applies not only in the case that the evaluation does not contain any actual information describing the concrete use of the service and therefore a further justification is not possible for the rated party, but also if there is information that speaks for a guest contact. The latter statement is a clarification of the Senate ruling of March 1, 2016 – VI ZR 34/15. This is because the rated party is regularly unable to verify this information and thus cannot reliably determine the alleged guest contact.

A more detailed substantiation of the assertion of the lack of guest contact is only required if the identity of the rater is readily apparent to the rated party from the rating. In addition, the limit of abuse of rights applies.

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Marian Härtel

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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