Bride forced to pay £64,000 in damages after online vendetta

Emily Liao destroyed a photographer’s business with a campaign of false accusations

Wedding, marriage
(Image credit: This content is subject to copyright.)

A Canadian bride who defamed a company that had provided wedding photographs for her and her fiance has been ordered by a judge to pay more than 100,000 Canadian dollars in damages after “destroying” the photographer’s business.

In April 2015, Emily Liao and Edward Chow from British Columbia hired Kitty Chan’s company, Amara Wedding, to provide photography, makeup, hairstyling, scheduling, flowers, tuxedo rental and a master of ceremonies, reports the Vancouver Sun.

Her price was just over $6,000 (£3,400), but days before the wedding Liao disapproved of the pre-wedding photos and stopped payment. Amara carried out the work but withheld the photos and videos pending full payment.

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Liao filed a small-claims lawsuit, says CTV News, which was settled “entirely in favour of the photographer”, and launched an online campaign against Chan and her business, which closed in January 2017.

According to Justice Gordon Weatherill, who issued his judgement last week, Liao used Chinese- and English-language social media sites to accuse the photographer of everything from “lying to consumers” to extortion and fraud.

Liao “claimed the defence of fair comment - that her statements were a matter of public interest and based on fact”, says The Star, but the judge found that Liao failed to prove the statements were true.

“Indeed, the evidence is overwhelming that none of them were true,” he said. “There is no doubt that [Liao] was dissatisfied with what she perceived as poor-quality wedding photographs. However, she has failed to prove that her displeasure was justified.”

Weatherill said Liao was “motivated by malice” and awarded C$115,000 (£64,750) in damages to Chan, including C$25,000 (£14,000) in punitive damages. Liao’s aggressive online campaign and the sudden collapse of Chan’s previously healthy business were “no coincidence”, the judge added.

"Not only did potential customers chose to stay away from us,” Chan’s husband Kevin Leung told CTV, “photographers and other wedding professionals did not want to work with us and were gossiping about my wife’s business practice and integrity”.

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