When posting negative reviews may infringe the law?

Slandering and defamation on the Internet more and more often end up in the courtroom.

The basis of civil law claims may be the provisions of the Civil Code concerning the infringement of personal rights, i.e. art. 23 and 24. Negative, false reviews may violate honour, good name, privacy as well as reputation and credibility of the entrepreneur. In such a case, a subject whose personal rights have been threatened by someone else’s actions, may demand the actions to be ceased unless it is not unlawful. However, in the event of the infringement already committed, it may also demand the person who committed the infringement to remedy its consequences, in particular to make a relevant statement (of right content and form). Additionally, it can demand financial compensation or payment of an appropriate sum for a specific social purpose and compensation for financial damage suffered.

In the relations between entrepreneurs, writing defamatory posts may constitute an act of unfair competition. The Act of 16 April 1993 on combating unfair competition states that it is such an act that disseminates false or misleading information about his or other entrepreneur or enterprise in order to yield benefits or cause damage. The information may be about persons managing the enterprise, manufactured goods or services provided, prices charged, economic or legal situation.

In the event of committing an act of unfair competition, an entrepreneur whose interest has been threatened or infringed may demand cessation of the unlawful actions, removal of the effects of prohibited activities, making one or repeated statement of appropriate content and form, repair of the damage pursuant to general rules, handing over unjustified benefit, adjudication of an adequate amount of money to the determined social goal connected to support for the Polish culture or related to the protection of national heritage – where the act of unfair competition has been deliberate.

Writing untrue, defamatory information may also have criminal consequences.

Imputing to another person or enterprise through the means of mass communication such conduct or characteristics that may discredit in the face of public opinion or result in  a loss of confidence necessary for a given position, occupation or type of activity (art. 212 of the Criminal Code) is an offence which is prosecuted by private indictment and is subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to one year.

Dissemination of false or misleading information about the enterprise, in particular about the persons managing the enterprise, manufactured goods, provided services or prices charged, about the economic or legal situation of the enterprise, in order to bring detriment to the entrepreneur is subject to a fine or arrest.