The French courts have a clever tip for one online critic: The next time you hammer a restaurant’s shoddy food in a fake review, at least wait until the place has actually opened. The maligned restaurant was the late Bernard Loiseau’s restaurant group’s now-Michelin-starred Loiseau des Ducs, and in July 2013, when this reviewer blasted it on PagesJaunes (sort of a French Yelp), the establishment wasn’t even booking tables yet.
Writing under the name “Le Clarifieur” (“The Clarifier”), the individual savaged away anyway. They said they found the spot “very overrated, all for show and with very little on the plate,” though there was one plentiful plate: “the one carrying the bill.” In response, Groupe Bernard-Loiseau said that negative reviews are fine, just not made-up ones posted “simply to destroy.” So after it went up, the group did some sleuthing, found the author’s identity, and went to court.
The court reasoned that Le Clarifieur’s review couldn’t have been based on a real dining experience. Fines against even legitimate online reviews can be notoriously draconian in France, so Le Clarifieur’s penalty for having the gall to write a totally fake one is probably about as expected: €2,500 in damages, plus another €5,000 to cover the cost of hunting the person down and suing.