A newspaper in Sydney has been successfully sued by a restaurant group after one of their food critics wrote a scathing review of his experience in their establishment.
The Australian courts have ordered John Fairfax Publications, the owners of The Sydney Morning Herald, to pay the owners of the Sydney restaurant, Coco Roco, on charges of defamation.
The battle started In 2003 after the Matthew Evans, a former food critic at the Herald, wrote a particularly negative review about the Coco Roco restaurant. In his review of the restaurant, which received just 9 out of 20, Evans said the restaurant wad "simple unpalatable". He also went on to describe certain dishes in a very negative light. The restaurant, which cost 3 million dollars to develop, closed just 6 months after the review.
However, it wasn't the bad review and negative comments tha the paper was sued over, more the fact that the article failed to point out that Coco Roco is two restaurants and that Evans was only dining in their more upscale Coco establishment. The restaurant claims that the negative review and the mislabeling of the restaurant also had a bad impact on their smaller bistro Roco which has also closed it's doors.
It's an interesting case and rare that defamation is called upon in a restaurant review, however, Australia has very strong defamation laws and with this trial proving a success for the restaurant maybe more critics will have to bite their tongue in fear they may also be sued. The worry? If critics are too scared to speak their mind for fear of a court battle, who is going to warn us about the hundreds of ghastly restaurants that open around he world every year?
The settlement figure for the case is unknown.