Kinlochleven couple in bid to sue TripAdvisor reviewers
The owners of a guest house have gone to court to seek details from a travel website of the writers of two bad reviews in a bid to sue the authors.
Martin and Jacqui Clark, who run the business in Kinlochleven, maintain that one report was false and that another set out events that were fictional.
TripAdvisor has challenged the move over its competency, claiming that there is no jurisdiction.
The judge has reserved his decision in the case and will give a ruling later.
The Clarks have asked the Court of Session in Edinburgh to make an order for TripAdvisor to disclose the names, addresses and other information they have on the identity of the authors.
In their petition, the couple said: "The postings purported to review events that did not take place. They were not reviews submitted by actual travellers."
It is alleged that the reviews were submitted contrary to the rules of TripAdvisor and that the postings were not made contemporaneously.
Both writers claimed to have visited the premises in September 2011, but the reviews did not appear until February and March the following year.
It is alleged that the postings were made maliciously and that "the reviews published were abuse or invective in the form of criticism".
Graeme Henderson, counsel for the Clarks, said they were applying to seek such assistance as they could from TripAdvisor over the identity of the two individuals named in the reviews as edna B and dreckit.
He told the court: "This is a proposed action in respect of which the pursuers take exception to two postings on the website. My position is they were plainly defamatory."
Mr Henderson said the couple, who operate a guest house, Tigh-Na-Cheo, said they could claim damages as individuals and for loss of business.
He told judge Paul Arthurson QC: "Living in the real world there is a substantial claim for defamation.
"Proceedings are more likely to be brought against the two writers than anyone else.
"TripAdvisor effectively is the holder of information in a dispute of other parties. That is really TripAdvisor's role in the dispute between the petitioners and the unknown posters."
Mr Henderson went on: "We are not, as petitioners, pursuing TripAdvisor. All we are simply doing is seeking a court order for information."
Paul O'Brien, counsel for the travel website, said there were pleadings set out that TripAdvisor had a place of business in England, but its position was that its place of business was in Massachusetts, in the US.
He said: "I am told TripAdvisor maintains its computer systems in the US."
Mr O'Brien said that even to recover information from other parts of the UK the court would issue a request to a court in that part of the country.
He argued that the legislation under which the order was sought was not available in the circumstances against TripAdvisor.
The counsel also maintained that the guest house proprietors entered an agreement that claims of this kind would be brought in Massachusetts.