In a judgment given on 30 March 2011 in the case of Robins v Kordowski [2011] EWHC 981 (QB)) Mr Justice Henriques granted yet another interim injunction against Mr Rick Kordowski, the proprietor of the “Solicitors from Hell” website to prevent the continued publication of defamatory allegations against a solicitor.  The injunction was also granted against the individual who had posted the material in question, Tim Smee – who had been the opposing party in litigation in which the claimant, Mr Stephen Robins, had acted.  In the course of his judgment the judge urged the lawyers’ professional bodies to take action against the notorious website.

There have been a series of earlier cases against Mr Kordowski – we have posted on Awdry, Bailey and Douglas, Farrall, Phillips and Mazzola.  Mr Justice Henriques pointed out that the case differed from various earlier ones in that the “poster” was joined and Mr Kordowski had sought to oppose the application.   In addition to his customary application for an adjournment Mr Kordowski argued that “Solicitors from Hell” provided a “service to the community” and relied on defences of justification, honest comment and qualified.

These contentions did not persuade Mr Justice Henriques.  After considering the evidence he was satisfied that “there are no grounds for concluding that the statements published are true.” [21]  He held that the words were not comment and that the defence of qualified privilege could not prevail, noting that the claimant was not contacted prior to publication and no steps were taken to verify.

In considering whether or not to grant an injunction Mr Justice Henriques took into account the damage caused to the claimant by the post – which anyone googling the claimants would be likely to find [31].  The judge concluded that

the only effective and immediate remedy for Mr Robins and his firm is for an injunction to be granted as of now.  It is in my judgment a practical necessity and without such a remedy the law will have failed him and his firm” [33]

He went on to make some more general remarks about the website:

the time has surely arrived for the Law Society and the Bar Council to consider some effective response to the conduct complained of in this case and in other similar cases.  No doubt the legal profession does, on occasion, fail those who seek its services.  However, many conscientious and highly reputable firms and individuals have found themselves as objects of offensive abuse and defamatory publication at the behest of disappointed litigants.  Indeed [Mr Kordowski] … conceded readily that he was dependent upon the veracity of those who had made complaints to him.  Disappointed litigants frequently have little regard for the truth” [35]

Finally, the Judge made the point that large firms with national reputations are able to ignore the website but the small firms cannot as they lack the size and strength of the leading firms featured on the website [36].

These remarks are highlighted in “The Lawyer’s” news story “Law Society and Bar Council urged to take action over Solicitors’ from Hell site“.    There is also a report of the case in the Law Society Gazette.