I believe that a group of businesses is engaging in anti-competitive behavior and that they are acting in a coordinated effort to maintain artificially-inflated prices and are publishing dishonest advertising through third parties to bring customers to them.
I would like to start a similar business in their area offering the same service at a significantly lower rate, and station someone in front of their places of business who would approach clients and let them know about our service and the relative rate difference etc. I would also like to tell these clients about the anti-competitive and dishonest behavior that we believe those businesses are engaged in, and that this is the reason for the significant difference in rates for the service.
I understand that if we were to say:
These businesses are engaging in anti-competitive behavior and have attracted you through dishonest advertising.
that we would likely have a burden of proof in any defamation claim.
But if we state the true facts more accurately in this way:
We believe that these businesses are engaging in anti-competitive behavior and have attracted you through dishonest advertising.
Would we still have some potential burden of proof (to prove the belief, not to prove the behavior itself?) in a defamation claim? Or are we free to believe whatever we want? What if the behavior can be proven false?