Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Coco Roco Defamation Case

I just read Truffles post about Coco Roco suing the newspaper for Matthew Evans' review of them. I vaguely remember hearing about this case a while back but didn't think much of it. However, after recently being threatened to be sued by Bar Lourinha myself, I am very interested in hearing what the final finding will be.

I'm sure my threats from Bar Lourinha are just empty threats, more of a scare tactic rather than a serious threat. I've sent them a reply email and I haven't heard back. I'm positive that they have nothing legally against me as my review wasn't even that negative and taking photos of the food is perfectly legal. Also, the money they would have to spend to take it to court against such a tiny blog as this would not justify it.

However, Coco Roco's case against Fairfax may have some legs in terms of Evans' review having a huge readership and hence a great effect. Since I am unable to find Evans' original review, its hard to say whether what he wrote is defamatory. It's hard to draw the line between defamatory, opinion and fact sometimes. If I say for example that "this restaurants food was awful, the rice was overdone and way too salty", is that defamatory? I think its just my opinion and that I am stating a fact as I see it. Instead if I were to say "this restaurants food is awful, the chef cooks like a twelve year old without any lessons", in my opinion, this statement would be defamatory. But I'm not expert in this case, especially with the legal side of things. Common sense doesn't always rule in the court of law. I waiting eagerly to find out what the ruling will be. Hopefully Coco Roco's lawsuit fails, or all restaurant reviewers, food bloggers included, may not be able to write their truthful opinions anymore.


  1. Thanks for the link :)

    I've included a link to the review in my original post now.

    As for the questions you raised, a new uniform defamation act has recently been introduced to provide consistency between the laws in each state. The defences include justification (the imputations are substantially true), contextual truth and honest opinion/fair comment along with others. In the hypothetical situations you raised it's possible you could rely on one of these.

  2. Truffle, you're welcome with the link, its such an interesting topic and one that food bloggers would be interested in I think.

    In terms of having a uniform rule, thats good. It still all comes down to judgement, but having read Evans' original review, it seems his statements had context and truth in my opinion. He describes each dish and what he thinks is wrong with it. Isn't that all that you can do as a reviewer, give your review of the food and place?

  3. Yup - best defense against defamation is that what you said/wrote is the truth. It will definitely be an interesting story to follow.

  4. Anna, after reading the original review, I really don't see what the restaurant can sue for. It sounds like Evans' was just giving his opinion.