A specialist debt recovery firm did not validly serve a claim on an employer review website in a bid to find out the identity of an apparent former employee who called its working environment ‘toxic’, the High Court has ruled.
BW Legal Services, which is based in Leeds, applied for a Norwich Pharmacal order against the Glassdoor website over two negative reviews, one of which criticised its alleged ‘military-style environment’ and another that said: ‘The job is so dull you’ll fall asleep at your desk.’
The firm – which the court heard has a rating of 4.9 out of 5 based on 59 reviews – tried to bring the claim through a London-based company within the Glassdoor group, Glassdoor Global Limited (GGL), and an order was granted on the papers in November.
But, when the application bundle was delivered to GGL’s offices that month, US-based Glassdoor Inc gave notice that it intended to dispute the High Court’s jurisdiction on the basis that an application for Norwich Pharmacal relief cannot be served out of the jurisdiction.
In a judgment on Friday, Mr Justice Jay ruled that the High Court has no jurisdiction to hear BW Legal Services’ claim as Glassdoor Inc’s business ‘is not carried on from GGL’s offices in the City of London’ and GGL’s business is ‘legally separate’.
Jay added that he would ‘probably’ have concluded that BW Legal Services had not proved it had suffered serious financial loss, noting that ‘prospective employees would understand that [the reviews] were largely based on matters of opinion and perception’.
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