B&B owner wins landmark victory over TripAdvisor

A bed and breakfast owner in the Outer Hebrides has won a landmark legal victory against review website TripAdvisor.

Richard Gollin, 64, launched a small claims action at Stornoway Sheriff Court over what he says are ‘false and malicious’ criticisms of his guesthouse in Lewis, which the site refused to take down after being posted by its users, reports the Daily Mail.

He claimed that negative comments posted cost him valuable bookings of around £2,000.

Until now, TripAdvisor, which is based in the US, has denied it was subject to UK laws and could therefore not be sued.

It previously challenged the jurisdiction of the Scottish court claiming the firm is outside the remit of the Scottish legal system because it is based in Massachusetts.

But Mr Gollin’s lawyer, Duncan Burd, won a concession from the firm which has agreed it can be sued in Scotland.

However, TripAdvisor won its request to hear the action in a higher court which would require Mr Gollin to hire a lawyer and be exposed to limitless expenses.

The bed and breakfast owner has appealed and it is expected to be heard in Stornoway in two months.

If it goes ahead, it is believed the case will pivot on the legal interpretation of TripAdvisor’s website terms and under the basis of the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977.

The case could see subsequent legal action against the site as any decision could be cited in cases outside Scotland.

A spokesman for TripAdvisor said: ” We understand the importance that the reviews and opinions on TripAdvisor have to properties and businesses listed on the site.

“It’s our top priority to ensure the content we feature is authentic and we dedicate significant time and resources to that end, including a host of over 25 sophisticated filters, a team of detectives, and our community of over 56 million users who help us police reviews.

“If an owner feels they’ve been subjected to an unfair review, we urge them to contact us immediately.

“We value the insights of the business owners as well as travellers and both are given an equal opportunity to speak to the TripAdvisor community.”