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Lawyer wins £10,000 damages from Solicitors from Hell owner
Thursday 17 February 2011 by James Dean
A judge has condemned the owner of the Solicitors from Hell website for his conduct when committing a serious libel against a young solicitor.
Mr Justice Lloyd Jones said that comments on Rick Kordowski’s website, solicitorsfromhell.co.uk, which criticised Juliet Farrall’s professional capability, were baseless, abusive, malicious, and an unwarranted slur on the competency and probity of a young lawyer.
Jones said Kordowski was responsible for all postings on Solicitors from Hell, even if he was not the author. He awarded £10,000 in damages to Farrall, a solicitor at London firm McCormacks, in part to give a clear sign to the public that the allegations against her were untrue.
Jones was assessing damages for Farrall following a hearing in the High Court on 1 October, when Mr Justice Tugendhat granted a rare interim injunction against Kordowski. Kordowski is appealing the ruling.
Jones said the libel against Farrall was aggravated by the fact that Kordowski: attempted to charge Farrall £299 to remove the posting; failed to apologise; arrogantly and disreputably demanded that Farrall provide information about her position in the firm; failed to verify the allegations before publication; failed to remove all traces of the allegations from search engines after the posting was deleted; and failed to give Farrall an opportunity to comment on the allegations before publication.
After discovering the offending post on 1 September 2010, Farrall sent a letter before claim to Kordowski, saying that the allegations were untrue. Kordowski then wrote to Farrall’s employers, McCormacks, requesting that they send him Farrall’s file reviews and appraisals. The posting was removed between 29 and 30 September 2010, but traces of the allegations remained on search engines after then.
In Kordowski’s appeal against Jones’s ruling, the website owner claims that he has a ‘moral and social duty to expose wrongdoings on the part of solicitors’. He points out that his terms and conditions ‘make clear to those who post that they must not make defamatory and/or [malicious] comments’.
Kordowski says in his appeal that the allegedly defamatory material was taken down ‘during the early stages with minimal exposure’, adding that he has no means by which to pay damages and costs.
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