Here’s an interesting reputation management case: a London law firm that’s just won £25,000 in damages from High Court action against a client who posted a negative review about it online – and is seemingly battling the reputational repercussions as a result.

The court found the client’s TrustPilot review defamatory, and the firm said it caused lost business – which I’m sure must have hurt.

But how much could it lose now that its unhappy customer and its client management ‘technique’ has hit national headlines – headlines that will forever come up when anyone Googles the firm? And now that its TrustPilot page has not one but dozens of negative comments, such has been the outcry?

The problem for the firm is, whatever the rights and wrongs of this case, having taken aggressive and highly public action against its client, I suspect fewer people might hire these guys in future. Not only does it thrust its dissatisfied customer into the spotlight; it will be natural to think ‘If they did that to him, maybe they’ll do it to me.’

Suing a small client for £25k after a negative review about a £200 piece of work – in the midst of a pandemic, of all times – is a surprising move that seems to put the firm at loggerheads with the public mood.

Perhaps it’s symptomatic of a problem that I’ve found afflicts certain lawyers who provide clients with crisis advice: a keen eye for the letter of the law, but little appreciation for broader reputational matters.

It’s something I imagine Summerfield Browne might now be rethinking, thanks to a sudden reputational saga of its own.


See more on our reputation management and crisis communication services here