Legal Threats Policy

August 2013

Canstar operates a research and ratings business which is well known and highly regarded by Australian and New Zealand consumers. Our companies operate to a very high standard of professionalism. We have over 45 experienced staff, and we use professional market research partners when applicable.

The business of ratings means that most brands don′t receive the top rating. Understandably, some businesses are disappointed. The vast majority take the results on board. They sometimes work with us to understand where there is opportunity for improvement. Canstar will always attempt to answer queries from businesses who are rated by us, in a professional and polite manner.

Over the past 18 years, Canstar has received few legal threats, no doubt in part due to the professionalism of our approach and people. However, from time to time we do receive legal threats and demands. They are typically written in hostile language intended to intimidate.

Canstar has developed a policy to respond to these threats as follows:

(a) In the first instance, we far prefer to meet with the company′s management – without lawyers – to see if we can resolve the issues raised. This is clearly preferable to both parties, and in our experience has led to a better understanding of the issues. Often the reason for the rating becomes more apparent, or more understood by the management of those who express concern and are prepared to meet with us.

(b) If we agree that we have made a mistake or provided information that is misleading, we will rectify those matters immediately.

(c) As a general policy, we will not ′release all information′ about how a rating was determined or how a survey was conducted. Our methodology for CANSTAR ratings and awards is publicly available on our website.

(d) If we receive unfounded threatening demands or complaints, we may take any or all of the following actions:

  • Release to the national media a story covering the threatened or actual law suit, including the results of our research. We may also release this on our website and to our subscriber base. We note that Canstar is well known by the media and that any legal action would almost certainly attract broad media coverage. Our company spokesman appears regularly on the highest rating television programs in Australia and together our websites attract around 2 million visitors per year.
  • Publish the complainant′s threatening correspondence on our website.
  • Release additional research. For example, we may conduct and release more research into a particular issue.

We consider the fact that we are threatened with legal proceedings to be newsworthy and to be information that is relevant to consumers when making purchasing decisions.

Other information providers such as Whirlpool and Crikey have similar policies as Canstar′s in relation to legal threats.

In short, we are prepared and well equipped to defend our business in the court of public opinion as well as the court of law.

An important final point to stress is that Canstar is a ratings business. If we were to stop ratings due to vexatious claims and lawsuits, we would no longer have a business. Furthermore, our business provides consumers with information that may be of interest and use to them. This includes the fact that a rating subject has made legal threats to Canstar about ratings results. We will not be browbeaten by disgruntled ratings subjects who resort to legal processes in the absence of a legitimate claim. In such cases, we have no choice but to take substantial and decisive steps to defend our business.

Canstar retains a general counsel with extensive litigation experience and uses external firms when appropriate. Our Terms and Conditions set out the terms of use of the Canstar website.