What Can You Legally Say In A Negative Online Review?

Thanks to a bill that passed unanimously through the Illinois House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor Rauner last week, Illinois residents are now legally protected when they post angry online reviews on sites like Yelp or Google… except when they’re not.

The new law prevents businesses from including or enforcing non-disparagement clauses in contracts for the sale or lease of consumer goods or services. Such clauses sometimes appear in the “terms and conditions” many consumers do not read thoroughly. However, reviewers can still face legal action if their reviews are defamatory, i.e. if they include false claims about the businesses.

Where do legal negative reviews end and illegal defamatory statements begin?

While the line isn’t always clear, the guiding principal is whether or not the review includes a demonstrably false statement of fact about the business. So, while you can claim your new least favorite dentist doesn’t care about his or her patients, claiming he or she ruins customers’ teeth every day might land you in hot water.

For more about defamation and our defamation related services, check out our defamation page and video guide here.

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