A Sydney-based travel agency has been forced to pay legal costs after losing a court case against a woman who made negative comments about the company in a Facebook group.
Harris Park-based Price Beat Travel launched defamation proceedings against a woman who criticised the business in 2018 over a booking she made for herself and her 18-month-old daughter to travel to India.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the woman made the allegedly defamatory comments in a post to an Indian mothers group in Sydney called Desi Mums Connect (Sydney), which deleted her post within three days and apologised to the company.
Court documents show the woman’s post to Facebook criticised the travel agency over its alleged failure to ensure she was provided with a bassinet and baby food on her flight to India.
She claimed the agent had “cheated” her and said she would not suggest booking a flight with them.
The documents show Price Beat Travel had to prove it was an independent company with less than 10 employees in order to sue for defamation.
However, District Court Judge Alister Abadee found that the company could not prove it had less than 10 employees at the time due to a partnership with a call centre in India.
On top of this, the woman’s defence pointed out the agency’s website stated it had “over 40 staff members based in Sydney, Melbourne and India”.
“It follows from this that I am not persuaded that at that time, it employed fewer than 10 persons,” the judge said according to court documents.
“The plaintiff therefore does not have the capacity to sue the defendant in defamation in respect of the matters it complains of.”
As a result of the ruling, the agency was ordered to pay the woman’s legal costs.
The judge also said that had the company had the capacity to sue, the woman would have been charged damages of $10,000, as he found the post contained two instances of defamation and rejected her defence of truth.
Travel Weekly has reached out to Price Beat Travel for comment.
Image source: iStock/NiseriN