Reviews and defamation – Australia’s current case

It’s old news, but for a moment last week newspapers and cafés were abuzz with speculation about the future of restaurant reviewers. A ruling by the High Court of Australia appeared — in media depictions — to establish that a now-defunct Sydney restaurant, Coco Roco, had been defamed by reviewer Matthew Evans of the Sydney Morning Herald.

I expected the food-blogosphere to erupt in outrage, given that many foodbloggers are doing their thing in order to tell cybernauts about their dining experiences. Nix. Nothing. Almost. With the exception of this and this, I haven’t seen other Australian foodblogs mention it. It didn’t even get mentioned in the Australian section of eGullet, despite a previous discussion about reviewing. If you Google relevant terms, you’ll discover that foreign media, forums and blogs have been rather more interested.

I can’t help but wonder just what Aussie review-genre foodbloggers are in it for.

As it happens, last week’s ruling is far from earth-shattering, being but one more step in the case. Wait until the outcome of further legal process in the New South Wales Supreme Court, where the newspaper will actually defend itself. A final negative outcome for the newspaper would have considerable implications for all who review — bloggers who review are of course open to litigation too. If you want to read more about the general issue of litigation and restaurant reviews, see this at

– DM

UPDATE: I had overlooked this clear description of the case on eat-melbourne and (at last!) some online discussion.

A new look for Syrup & Tang

Dear Readers: Behold! syrupandtang version 2.0. Yes, there’s been an aesthetic overhaul. Although I was fond of the old design, there were a few problems with it – especially because so many people still use Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) – I can see this from the site statistics. IE6 is an unsafe browser which doesn’t comply with web standards. If you are using Windows XP, pleeeease upgrade to IE7. The older version refuses to do things which just about every other browser (Firefox, Opera, Safari) manages successfully. 🙂

I hope you like the new look of syrupandtang. It will, hopefully, work for everyone.

If you discover something which doesn’t seem to be displaying correctly, please send me a message or leave a comment at the bottom of this entry. It would be helpful to tell me what operating system (e.g. Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS X …, and what browser and version you are using).

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– Duncan