A mother and part-time nurse left a one-star review for High Rocks restaurant in Tunbridge Wells.
Sarah Gardner dined at the scenic wedding venue in Kent but she said staff were rude to her when the tried to book a table.
She took to TripAdvisor to leave her negative comments, which included describing the food as ‘mediocre at best’.
But shortly after the review was posted, Sarah received an 11-page letter from a law firm in London.
Cohen Davis Solicitors plans to take the TripAdvisor case to the High Court on behalf of their client, High Rocks.
The material you have posted about our client on TripAdvisor.com is defamatory and therefore unlawful
The letter said: “The material you have posted about our client on TripAdvisor.com is defamatory and therefore unlawful.
“Our client will pursue you for aggravated damages to compensate it for the full extent of its financial losses.”
Cohen Davis requested the dates of Sarah’s visits as well as the receipts from her food purchases.
Attached was a draft court injunction which said: “PENAL NOTICE: If you, Sarah Gardner, do not comply with this order you may be held in contempt of court and may be imprisoned or fined.”
Sarah said the threatened legal action turned her into a “nervous wreck” but she continues to stand by her review.
The mum replied to the law firm’s letter with a quote from former justice minister Shailesh Vara about libel law changes making it “harder for wealthy people or companies to bully or silence those who may have fairly criticised them or their products”.
Cohen Davis responded with a 14-page letter which said: “We note your purported defences of ‘honest opinion’ or ‘truth’. This, of course, is a matter for you to prove.”
But under the 2013 Defamation Act, responsibility falls on the claimant to prove they’ve endured “serious harm”.
The law firm requested copies of Sarah’s private messages with other internet users about the review – which has since been deleted.
Sarah replied, again defending her actions, but Cohen Davis isn’t backing down.
The law firm told the Mirror: “It would be highly inappropriate and libellous for your paper to repeat any of Ms Gardner’s libellous allegations.”
Sarah might not be the only customer who has been threatened after reviewing High Rocks.
Another couple claims they removed their bad rating from TripAdvisor after similar correspondence.
They told the Mirror: “We were then sent a letter before action by High Rocks’ solicitors threatening to bring proceedings against us for malicious falsehood.”
Last month staff at a pub who saved the life of a guest after he suffered a heart attack were shocked when the man’s relatives rated the place as ‘terrible’ afterwards on TripAdvisor.