Thursday, April 28, 2011

Japanese Restaurant Chain Benihana Loses Case Against Blogger in Kuwait

The National, UAE.

A restaurant in Kuwait has lost its case against a local blogger it sued over an unfavourable online review.

The Kuwait branch of the Japanese chain Benihana took action against blogger Mark Makhoul, a Lebanese national living in Kuwait, over comments posted on his popular blog

Mr Makhoul wrote a negative review after visiting the restaurant in December. "The chicken was very chewy (I could swear it was undercooked if not raw) and tasted terrible," Mr Makhoul wrote. "Would I go back to Benihana? No I wouldn't."

Benihana responded by suing Mr Makhoul. The company's general manager in Kuwait, Mike Servo, claimed in a posting to the blog that Benihana's name has been "destroyed and abused" by the posting.

Mr Makhoul and his lawyer confirmed that a Kuwaiti court ruled against Benihana on Tuesday, although they said the restaurant has 30 days to appeal the ruling.

"They announced the verdict, which is in my favour," said Mr Makhoul. "If they don't appeal, the case officially gets closed."

Khaled Al Shamali, the managing partner at The Group Law Firm in Kuwait, which represented Mr Makhoul, confirmed that the court's ruling was in his client's favour.

However, Benihana's Mr Servo said that no official communication had been received from the judges. "We never received a final verdict copy from the judge," he said. "We cannot say whether [Mr Makhoul] has won or lost."

Mr Makhoul said that the ruling marks a legal "precedent" for bloggers in Kuwait.

"Bloggers in Kuwait do not have to fear expressing their opinion. This has set a precedent," he said. "Kuwait is known for respecting people's rights, and freedom of speech."

LWDLIK- Great news for all bloggers :O)

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