FIFERS who feel free to say what they like should take note of the man ordered by a court to pay £25,000 in damages after leaving a negative review online.

That's the view of DAS Law who said the case is a timely warning of the dangers of publicly sharing your opinions.

With millions of us turning to the web for everything from grocery shopping and clothes buying to choosing a new lawnmower or hiring a lawyer, online reviews play their part in our decision-making.

Simon Roberts, principal associate solicitor at DAS Law, said: “Like many aspects of law, common sense and truth are the watch-words.

"Whilst you’re entitled to express your views and post your opinions, be aware of the potential impact this may have on the hotel or business you stayed at.

"If your review is not truthful and has a negative financial impact, then your review could be considered libellous in a court of law.”

The firm has outlined steps you can take to ensure your views don't get you into hot water.

He said: "Most importantly, tell the truth. An online review is not libellous if the statements contained in the review are true.

"You are entitled to give your honest opinion.

"A bad review is only defamatory if you make a false statement which is likely to cause financial loss to a business."

He added: “Nevertheless, whilst you have the right to freedom of expression, this is not an absolute right and does not give you the right to make defamatory statements.

"Avoid making such statements, but don’t be deterred from sharing your honest views and experiences.

"And, of course, don’t forget to try all available customer complaint channels too.”

Simon said the consequences for getting it wrong can be expensive.

He explained: “A business pursuing a claim for libel without a just cause could prove costly as they could face huge legal fees if they are unsuccessful.

"However, if a business is successful in a defamation case against you, they would generally be able to recover compensation, legal costs and get a court order instructing you to remove your review from the website and publish an apology.

“For a business, an unhappy reviewer may not make pleasant reading but a bad review does not always equate to a defamatory one.

"Court action should generally be the last resort as defamation claims could be very costly.

"If you are a business considering litigation then specialist advice must be sought.

"Businesses can report the comment to the website but if the comment is genuine the website is unlikely to take it down even if it appears to be defamatory.

"Many travel sites such as TripAdvisor allow businesses to provide a response to the review giving their side of the story."

DAS Law is part of the DAS UK Group, the UK’s leading provider of specialist legal expenses insurance.