Bad Google Reviews In Alberta And Defamation: Protecting Your Business Reputation

In today's digital age, online reviews play a crucial role in shaping a business's reputation.
Canada Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration
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In today's digital age, online reviews play a crucial role in shaping a business's reputation. Positive reviews can boost credibility and attract new customers, while negative ones can have serious consequences. For small to mid-sized businesses, a few bad Google reviews can be particularly damaging. But what happens when a dissatisfied client intentionally posts false information to harm your business? Can you take legal action against them for defamation?


Defamation is a legal claim that arises when someone makes false statements about another person or entity, harming their reputation. To succeed in a defamation lawsuit, the plaintiff (the party claiming defamation) must prove three key elements:

  1. Defamatory Statements: The words complained of must be defamatory, meaning they would lower the subject's reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person. In the context of Google reviews, this could include false accusations of incompetence, negligence, or unprofessionalism.
  2. Identification: The defamatory words must refer to the plaintiff. In other words, the statements should be about the business or its employees.
  3. Publication: The defamatory statements must be communicated to at least one other person. In the case of Google reviews, this requirement is easily met since reviews are publicly accessible.


Consider the case of D'Alessio v. Chowdhury (2023 ONSC 6075). In this matter, a law firm sued a client who had left a scathing Google review. The review accused the firm of incompetence, negligence, and unprofessional behavior. The Google review stated as follows:

"If you want an incompetent lawyer and paralegal posing as a lawyer handling your case then feel free to use this firm . . . They were highly negligent with my cases . . . . Thankfully, I moved to another firm. This firm refuses to transfer our files, deliberately causing delays and wont even let us review their nonsense billing. They are highly unprofessional and disorganized. They are not trustworthy and if my file is not sent to my new lawyer asap, I will contact the law society . . . . Elio is a joke, 3 years ago he got me a measly offer of less than 30k and asked me 3 years later if he should try and see if that offer is still on the table, pathetic. Rob is even worse . . . If your firm was even a little bit organized it would not take over two months to send a file . . . . . . You are shady, pathetic and awful lawyer".

The court found that the review met all three elements of defamation. The words were clearly defamatory, they referred to the law firm, and they were publicly communicated. As a result, the law firm was awarded $20,000 in damages and $9,500 in costs.


Litigating a defamation claim can be expensive, especially if it goes to trial. However, in some cases, a full trial may not be necessary. Courts may decide defamation cases through summary judgment applications. In such cases, the judge reviews documentary evidence without witness testimony or cross-examination. If the defendant fails to provide a satisfactory defense or if their defense lacks merit, the court can rule based on affidavits. This streamlined process saves time and costs significantly.


If your business in Alberta has been unfairly targeted by false Google reviews, consider seeking legal advice. Our experienced litigators can help you navigate defamation claims, protect your reputation, and seek appropriate remedies. Remember that while negative reviews are part of doing business, intentionally false and damaging statements should not go unchallenged.

In the digital landscape, safeguarding your reputation is essential. Consult with legal professionals who understand defamation laws and can guide you toward a resolution that preserves your business's integrity.

If you are a business based in Alberta and have received untruthful reviews on Google or social media, our team of litigators can help take prompt action to protect your business's reputation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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