Learn More About False Reviews in Establishment that Invites Penalties in the UAE

Companies, or brands, that offer services to the general public, can often become the subject of negative reviews from their customers, if their service has not been up to the mark. This is absolutely common, and people who are involved in this area of work know how to deal with such reviews from their clients. However, there may be instances where a person has just gone up and above with the review and really damaged the reputation of your business, when most of what he wrote was not even true. How do you deal with such a situation?

Penal Code: As per the UAE laws, this constitutes ‘libel’, which means damaging the reputation of a person by way of publishing untrue statements about him i.e. defamation. The Federal Decree-Law No. 31 of 2021, that is, the UAE Penal Code, clearly states, under Article 425, that anyone who insults another person by way of imputation of a fact publicly, thereby resulting in punishment or contempt towards that person, will be punished with either a jail sentence of about 2 years, or a fine of almost 20,000 dirhams.

This implies that if someone damaged the reputation of you or your company by posting false negative reviews, whether on your company website or any social media platform, you can bring an action against that person on account of defamation.

In order to prove defamation, you must be able to show that because of the review posted by such person against your services, you have suffered potential damage, such as you are unable to get customers anymore, and your existing customers have also stopped receiving services from you, resulting in financial loss to your company as well as mental distress to you.

However, it must be kept in mind that the review made by such person must be false; if there was actually a lack on your part, or you did not deliver according to the reasonable expectations of the client, the review will not amount to defamation.

Cybercrime Law: You can also sue such person under Article 52 of Federal Decree-Law No. 34 of 2021, the UAE Cybercrime Law. It states that anyone who publishes or circulates, through information technology methods, fake news or data, false or misleading reports, rumors, or provocative promotions, which

  1. arouse or provoke public opinion
  2. disturb public peace
  3. intimidate people
  4. harm public interest, national economy, public order or health shall be liable to detention of at least a year and a fine of minimum 100,000 dirhams.

Publishing anything which may trigger unrest in the public is prohibited as per the UAE Cybercrime Law. When negative reviews are published on the internet, they have the potential to reach a large number of people in a short span of time. Therefore, if negative opinions are circulated without their credibility being checked, it can result in major loss to the one on the receiving end of the backlash. It is always better to keep a track of the reviews you receive on a daily basis, so that any problem can be dealt with, before an unpleasant scenario is created.

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