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#TripAdvisor Liable under UK Law

TripAdvisor Liable under UK Law

Hotels, B&Bs and restaurants can now take legal action in the UK against review website TripAdvisor following a landmark victory over legal jurisdiction.
Following months of legal argument, TripAdvisor said on October 11th at Stornoway Sheriff Court that it was dropping its challenge to UK jurisdiction, conceding that it is subject to the laws of Scotland and can be taken to court in the UK.
The case was brought by a Scottish B&B owner who claimed that negative criticism posted about his business was false and should be removed by TripAdvisor.

TripAdvisor had previously denied it was subject to UK law and argued it could not be sued in Britain, saying that its headquarters are in Massachusetts and therefore outside the reach of the UK legal system.

However, the B&B owner’s lawyer argued that the “harmful event” took place in Uig, on Lewis, and thus the Stornoway court had jurisdiction. In addition, he pointed out TripAdvisor had a designated office at 7 Soho Square in London, which put “the defenders in the member state.”

However, this particular case may not make it to court as the Sheriff ruled it was too complex for the Sheriff court and would have to be transferred to a higher court.  This would expose the plaintiff to unlimited legal expenses.

The B&B owner pointed out to the sheriff that TripAdvisor had spent weeks trying to transfer the case to Massachusetts, and that its latest request to transfer to a higher court was a ruse to make it too expensive for him to pursue his case.  Sheriff Colin Scott Mackenzie said, “I do have sympathy for you” but added that the contract law involved might be too complex for his court.

Mr Gollin is now appealing to the Sheriff Principal over the decision, which could force him to drop the action due to the legal costs involved.  However, it does set a precedent for other owners to challenge TripAdvisor in court outside the USA.