Being an experienced reviewer, I know that rejection can be frustrating, but also fruitful and a good learning experience. There are many kinds of reviews (good, bad, constructive, opinionated, short, missing the points, etc.) and as many kinds of responses (revision, rebuttal, abandonment, etc.). My question focuses on a specific case, a bit different from those considered here previously.
I received a notification about a grant proposal (I'd prefer not to say which agency I submitted to), already being evaluated as a fundable or excellent one, and quite critical to my career (really a lot of stuff depends on it, and one can see this from my CV). One review was plain positive (no criticism at all), and one was grossly negative. The two reviews had almost diametrically opposed conclusions. (There were only two!)
My problem: The negative review made several false claims (the evidence was easy to pinpoint) and put up a range of straw men (rather generic rejection arguments pinpointing irrelevant or inappropriate details). For example, they criticized the oldest of my papers I had cited and used this as evidence that I was insufficiently experienced in this field, but they overlooked the next seven papers I had also published in the same field (some in prestigious journals).
At this point, I suspect the reviewer was not knowledgeable of the topic or even had a certain conflicts of interest. In either case, they IMHO should have declined the review request.
However, the evaluation committee explained that they had to particularly take into account the negative review to inform their decision (without giving a reason), and interestingly, added further negative criticism.
What can I do about this notification? Should I contact the funding agency, write a rebuttal with the details, and request a third review and a revision? Should I think about legal action because there might be gross negligence or reputational damage at play? I don’t have any idea, because talking to funding agencies is like trying to fly to Mars. Re-submission, even if possible, will take another year because it will be treated like a new application. It is, at least, unclear whether there are other options.