back to article Solicitors from hell website unplugged by libel judge

A website that allows users to 'name and shame' lawyers whose services they are unhappy with has been ordered to close after the High Court ruled its publisher had breached libel, data protection and harassment laws. The High Court ruled that solicitorsfromhell.co.uk should be shut down and its publisher Rick Kordowski …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pulling Rank

    Classic case. If that were a website naming and shaming shoe shops, it would have taken years to get to court and the judge wouldn't have been so 'Joe Stalin' in their attitude toward the defendant.

    I wish I'd have known about this site before it closed.

    1. Stone Fox
      Facepalm

      what did you expect?

      The law society defended the lawyers, shock horror. Reminds me of when I complained to them about being ripped off by a lawyer - nothing happened.

      He should file a complaint with the recently formed independent legal complaints service! A service formed BECAUSE the law society are famously protective of their own.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Stone Fox

        When the vendors' solicitors screwed up (I won't go into details) when I purchased my house, it was the Law Society who dealt with them and sanctioned them for their screw up.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          This is going to get me downvoted to hell by the ignorant, but hey.

          The site was not a complaints site, it was a for profit business. It made money by emailing a solicitors firm before a "review" about their site would be published offering them the chance to have that "review" not published for £XXX, or more after it was live on the site.

          It was alleged that quite a lot of the "reviews" on there were actually complete fabrication. Some of them certainly were and you could tell that simply because they complained about things that were not actually possible (ie; complaints about the service provided by an english solicitors practice doing Scottish conveyancing who didn't and couldn't offer Scottish conveyancing services)

          The suspicion in the legal world was that he was actually writing his own "reviews" and then demanding money to take them down. Given that was the speculation many years ago when I was doing IT at a Solicitors practice I'm hardly surprised that the place ended up being shut down.

          1. Marty
            Holmes

            if that were true

            if the above were true, then that near enough amounts to blackmail, extortion and demanding money with menace... in other words, criminal record and jail time a possibility.

            I would imagine that this would work across many industries but the mark would more likely pay up and avoid the legal hassles of getting it pulled down... solicitors firms would be the total opposite and would imagine very few would pay up, most would bite back....

            a very dangerous game to play if you ask me...

          2. Mark 65

            Thanks for filling in the gaps. Seems like the accused was behaving like a cock and chose completely the wrong group of people to victimise.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            If there was lies (libel), blackmail and extorsion as described by Peter2, I struggle to understand why that guy wasn't sued to the bone for these crimes by the laywers. So I find it hard to believe that explanation really.

            1. Peter2 Silver badge

              He has been sued to the bone. Repeatedly.

              http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2011/mar/25/solicitors-from-hell-rick-kordowski

              That was a more recent case, where he was hit with a £10k fine for "baseless, abusive, malicious" comments. IE. Fabricated. But you can pay to have the comments removed!

              In that article, he even says that he's posted "solicitors from hell" articles from people that the solicitors never represented such as the defendants who lost a case. In addition, he tacitly admits in that article that he has "sold" a lifetime protection scam (not just a single removal) to numerous solicitors firms.

              Still hard to beleive that explanation for why his site was shut down? The surprise is that it didn't happen sooner.

    2. Stuart Halliday
      Thumb Up

      Gone but not forgotten

      Just go to the Wayback machine site and look it up.

      It is all archived for your future enjoyment...

  2. jai

    interesting

    So was the site actually pushing lies about specific solicitors then? Or is that just how it had been spun to get the court ruling?

    On a different note, did anyone else find that the article itself seemed to be written in legalese? Felt like every 2nd paragraph was saying the same thing, just in slightly different wording.

    1. diodesign Silver badge

      Well, it was written by Out-Law, which is a law firm and partner of The Reg. Like all court cases (especially ones involving libel) it has to be carefully constructed for legal reasons. The piece could be shorter, I grant you, but then we could be accused of dumbing down what is a tricky area of law, leaving out details or similar.

      1. Hungry Sean

        "personal data"

        the article mentions the site publishing "personal data"

        was this just names and office locations of firms, or were they actually publishing home addresses, phone numbers, etc.? Were comments on the site suggesting violence or other retaliation against particular people?

        Curious because things like this have played a big role in similar situations here in the US in establishing a line between protected, but negative, opinion and harassment (I know our libel laws are much more relaxed than those in the UK).

        1. Marty
          Pirate

          " the article mentions the site publishing "personal data"

          was this just names and office locations of firms, or were they actually publishing home

          addresses, phone numbers, etc.? Were comments on the site suggesting violence or other

          retaliation against particular people?

          "

          as most solicitors trade as an individual, by doing so, things like name and addresses along with telephone numbers as far as data protection goes is personal information. If they worked within a firm of solicitors, then the name and address of the offices of the firm would be public information and could be treated differently.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can anyone really be surprised?

    Solicitors close ranks when there are any complaints about their conduct. They're worse than the medical community.

    1. david 12 Bronze badge

      Worse than the Medical Community?

      Actually, the biggest problem the Medical Community has is Lawyers. It's the Management stuff-ups that cause the most deaths, but for day-by-day problems it's the inability to fire anyone that causes the most problems, (and contributes to situations where management close their eyes, put their hands over their ears, and go la-la-la-la-la-la when there are problems)

      In my own country, Management routinely neglect to check basic references when hiring Doctors (see for example Jayant Mukundray Patel, sentenced to 7 years jail), but the routine inability to fire anyone for incompetence only makes the press if they can allege financial misdealings (see for example Professor Kossmann, only suspended after allegations that he 'rorted the Transport Accident Commission scheme' )

      A more typical case (which will remain nameless) involves a Public Hospital which on appeal to the High court is unable to fire a doctor, even though it is accepted that he is not competant to do the work for which he was hired. The court held that a big hospital like that should be able to find other work for him...and there exists good precedents for that decision.

      I'll make a big generalisation here: The medical community has zero tolerance for incompetent Senior Doctors, because incompetent Senior Doctors just mean more work for everyone else, for which they generally don't get paid more, or compensated at all. There is tolerance for weak Junior Doctors in training positions, but it is fanciful to think that anyone would close ranks to protect juniors.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: Can anyone really be surprised

      The Law Society, if they're anything like the BMA, are a union, whose first duty is to advocate the interests of their paying members.

      Any 'regulation' the former does or doesn't do, doesn't prevent any wronged party suing the solicitor in question. Of course the fact law is in some ways for the rich might prevent it, but that's another matter.

  4. Matt K

    Zero sympathy

    Maybe there was some libel there, maybe there wasn't. But I have zero sympathy for the owner given that he published personal data and demanded money to take it down, then tried to sell it to someone overseas,

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Personal data" is a slippery term

      Reading the article, especially the quote from the judge, I get the impression that the "personal data" in question was not anything sensitive like addresses or phone numbers.

      Rather, the lawyers claimed that the opinions published and stored on the website were personal data because they referred to solicitors who traded as individuals.

      Describing opinions on someone's professional activities as "personal data" seems to be an extension of the DPA beyond its intended purpose.

      1. Matt K

        Indeed

        I think you're right about what the interpretation was, but apparently it is covered by the DPA. I've skimmed the judgement and the two relevant bits are:

        "The DPA s.1 provides that 'personal data' means "data which relate to a living individual who can be identified (a) from that data…""

        and:

        "The data processed by the Defendant about the Third Claimant is personal data, and sensitive personal data, as it included statements (which are false) about the alleged commission of offences by the Third Claimant."

        Whilst it does seem a bit of a stretch at first read to call that personal data, if I was a legit solicitor (yes, I know, many will think that an oxymoron) getting unjustified anonymous grief, I'd consider it to be inaccurate personal data.

        (Just to be clear: I'm not defending the legal profession, there are plenty of firms that seem nothing more than shysters to me, but this looks like someone who crossed a line when he started demanding money.)

  5. Andydude
    Joke

    Surely the real story here is what were "Mr Justice Tugendhat"s parents thinking!? With a name like that he could only really be a lawyer, teacher, porn star or a character from South Park. Does he have children? Are there little Tugendhats? What are they called?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      2 girls

      Belle and Scarlet

    2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

      clearly, sir, you are a student of architecture

      See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tugendhat_House.

      "Tugendhat" looks as if it ought to be a cognate of the German "Tugendheit", approximately "virtuousness".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @disgruntled yank

        Who needs boring facts? Tugendhat (if given its wrong, but funnier pronunciation) sounds rude - therefore it's funny.

        Clearly you need to get gruntled more often.

  6. Robin Bradshaw
    Flame

    Mr Justice Tugendhat said in his ruling.

    "If a free market is to work, consumers must assume that suppliers are offering their goods or services in good faith, and not deliberately misleading the public."

    Has the judge been under a rock for the last year while the banks imploded and the EU teetered on the brink of collapse, largely brought about by bad faith and misleading the public?

    I hope he considered the corollary to his statement that for a free market to continue to function there needs to be a mechanism by which the market can be alerted to and adjust for those who would seek to undermine it. For example some sort of forum or list to alert the market to suppliers who fail to provide the service they advertise.

    1. Paul Shirley
      WTF?

      I'd expect: "If a free market is to work, consumers must be able to check that suppliers are offering their goods or services in good faith, and not deliberately misleading the public."

      We've seen enough dishonest lawyers to know they're no better than any other trade. What's happened here is a disgrace though, the legal 'profession' taking advantage of an apparent idiots dishonesty to bend the law to give unjustified protections to their own cosy club. It's a blatant attempt to set precedent that will make it harder for the next honest whisteblower to fight his case.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    did he defend himself?

    Or could he find a lawyer prepared to act for him?

    1. Andy Fletcher

      I'd be willing to bet...

      he could have got a solicitor if he wanted one. I seriously doubt they give any more of a fig about each other than they do the rest of us.

  8. Jimbo 6
    Joke

    "malicious and defamatory allegations about solicitors"

    Presumably along the lines of

    "Some of them are caring and honest people"

    "They're not just in it for the money"

    "The world couldn't function without them"

    etc etc

    (Obligatory "I'm joking, actually" disclaimer, for reasons that should be obvious to a blind man on a galloping horse)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shocking behaviour

    Didn't Rick Kordowski realise that the correct way to deal with allegations against the legal profession, is to pass them to the Law Society?

    Such complaints can then be thoroughly investigated, whitewashed and ignored in the usual way.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does this apply

    To any other comparison sites - such as tripadvisor?

    1. Darryl

      Nope

      ...because those sites aren't saying bad things about the judge's buddies on (in?) the bar.

  11. Digital Freedom

    What a sad world we live in

    When the truth cant be told about these con artist solicitors.

    Why can't someone download all the information and publish it overseas out of reach of more bent solicitors.

    Does anyone know an HONEST solicitor?

    Thought not.

  12. Absolute Cynic
    Facepalm

    The name Mr Justice Tugendhat is known to readers of Private Eye. I think I will forward a link to this article to the magazine.

  13. Edward Clarke

    Somebody doesn't know about the wayback machine

    The postings are there in all their glory. You can't get rid of data that's been on the internet for any length of time.

  14. The Nameless Mist
    FAIL

    yet another legal decision without technical knowledge

    Just how does the High Court expect to be able to make this stick?

    Sites like "the wayback machine" at www.archive.org make the judgement pointless.

    1. davenewman

      Wayback record not very shocking

      I went to web.archive.org and looked at its latest cache of www.solicitorsfromhell.co.uk - back in April. It was a site full of complaints from often anonymous posters, not directed at one particular solicitor. The submission form does not ask you for your identity, just to pay £1 for the complaint to go live.

      Back in April it only had one posting on Hine Solicitors and none on McGrath, so I guess the libels complained about were posted later. The single posting about Hine Solicitors was clearly from someone who doesn't understand criminal procedure, rather than a documented complaint (like most of the complaints about conveyancing).

      1. Andy Fletcher

        Seriously?

        I honestly understood content law to be applicable to the writer - in other words stuff submitted by users is the responsibility of the user rather than the webmaster. Which makes this all seem all the more ridiculous. Maybe I'm wrong.

    2. Dave Harris
      Thumb Down

      You though wrong

      I've known many honest and honourable solicitors, including the one who acted for my mother in my parents' divorce (and gave her a job ten years later), and the one who acted for me in a dispute with my landlord.

      Many solicitors do actually believe strongly in the law and the rule of law, using it to help those who are in the shittiest of circumstances. This is why so many are vehemently opposed to the coming changes to Legal Aid (without which neither I nor my mum would have received representation), given it will strip assistance from some of the most disadvantaged in the UK.

      Stipulated, many lawyers go into the profession with an eye on making money in any possible. The vast majority, however, do not.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What is not clear

    A lot of people on this forum are implying that this is not fair because a judge is ruling in favour of some solicitors. What I am not clear from the article though is what the content of the site specifically was. If it was a bunch of consumer complaints or praise that were being aggregated and organised so people could find out about lawyers then I think the ruling was probably pretty harsh. If on the other hand this guy had a beef about some particular lawyers and put up a whole bunch of made up stuff on a website to try and get his own back, then the ruling sounds spot on. Given that the ruling specifically mentions a single law firm and a single lawyer it sounds to me like it might well be the latter.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "the ruling specifically mentions a single law firm and a single lawyer"

    So does El Reg's article. With names.

    Often if someone's reputation is being harmed by unfounded gossip, it takes a court injunction to keep the names OUT of the media. And a superinjunction means there's no way to confirm whether or not an injunction exists or not (well, except Twitter, obviously; yes Trafigura and Barclays, I'm thinking of you, but there are others).

    In this case, the parties involved are presumably quite happy to see their name in lights.

    Something odd in this picture.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Maybe it's because I'm not British, but the very concept of a superinjunction makes my blood run cold. The fact that it can actually exist, with people just saying, "Maybe it could be bad but it might do some good and privacy's good right and freedom stops somewhere so eh...", is terrifying in the most pure, horrible way possible - the horrible-car-crash "this can't be happening to me" feeling.

      This case in particular is a not-quite-so-egregious subset of that, which is kind of like saying that shooting someone in the head is a not-quite-so-egregious subset of delivering a fifteen megaton gift to the air over London.

      Ugh. *shivers*

  17. Dave 15

    not surprised

    Can hardly expect one legal bod to give the go ahead to someone for upsetting his best friends.

    The thing about the Brits is they are too damned stupid, most go to solicitors when they really don't need to. My recent divorce cost me about 100 all in - everything - I did it myself, a couple of forms and that was that - my wife spent about 2k on legal advice that proved neither a hinderance to me or a help to her - she got nothing more than I'd already offered and didn't delay the matter a day.

    I mistakenly used a solicitor for a house purchase, when the vendor had stripped the house of the fixtures and fittings he had promissed to leave, and the surveyor had failed to notice the structural problem in the house the solicitor informed me I 'could' go to court but was unlikely to get enough money back to pay his fees - in other words every penny I'd given him was a total and utter waste.

    I've also had to take a company to court for unpaid bills - I did it myself, got my money out of them, it cost them in solicitor and barister fees more than twice what they owed me.

    When we all stop using these people as if they were either useful or smart then we will stop having the problems.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      I worked in a Solcitors firm for many years in IT and I will doubtlessly know WAY more than you do about conveyancing.

      I would not do my own conveyancing. The legal industry has a very old non complimentary saying about *solicitors* doing their own conveyancing which includes the word "fool" and that's about a fully qualified, practising Solicitor doing the work for themselves.

      If your solicitors screw up, then you have many methods of recourse including taking them to the Solicitors Regulation Authority. If they have made a mistake then they pay for it from their liability insurance.

      Do you have liability insurance in case you mess up? No? Did you know conveyancing causes more insurance claims in the legal industry than any other sector in law? If you mess up and end up with a quarter million pound house you can't sell then it's literally your loss. For just £200 you can get a cheap solicitor doing the job and if they mess it up through a fault on your part then they have to compensate you for it, in full.

      If your sensible you know when it is worth taking legal advise, and when it's not. There are cases where it's not, but many where it is very worthwhile. Going back to conveyancing; you'd do far better to advertise your property yourself (and save 1-3% of the purchase price from the estate agents fees) than to save £200 on conveyancing fees for example.

      Taking someone to court much of the time is possible and sensible to do yourself, especially if you use the small claims court which won't actually hear a solicitor. You can always save money simply by simply cutting out the middleman and going strait to a barrister yourself. Solicitors rarely actually attend court themselves; they just hire a barrister from the chambers local to the court they are planning to use. You can do that yourself.

      1. Dave Harris

        Sam Clemens again

        "Anyone who represents themself in court has a fool for a client."

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Real Error

    I won't postulate an opinion about the subject matter or judgement, however the one mistake that the defendant definitely did make was to pick on the soliciting profession. My view is that no matter how dysfunctional a solicitor might be, they stick together tighter than a hoar's bomb doors which have been smeared with fast acting araldite.

    I won't ever place trust in a solicitor again due to my own dreadful experience. There may well be some non-dodgy solicitors out there, but I'm afraid the dodgy brigade lost their future opportunities with me.

    And if you need any proof of how dodgy solicitors are, remember Tony Blair justifying the Iraq war on the back of us being within 45 minutes of weapons of mass destruction. Bliar was a solicitor before he found another career with even more rich pickings.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      M'Lud

      He was a Barista...

      1. Dave Harris

        Not only that, he had a deal with his missus, that whoever was elected to Parliament first, the other would carry on with the law to bring the money in. Remember, Cherie Booth was selected as a PPC for the (old) Labour Party before her husband. He just won his election before she did.

        1. TeeCee Gold badge
          Black Helicopters

          Would that be the same Cherie Booth who founded a chambers specialising in Human Rights cases, just as her husband rammed through a raft of labyrinthine and loophole-ridden legislation lacking defined scope, ensuring a healthy supply of long and highly profitable legal arguments on the subject in perpetuity?

          Conflict of interest? Surely not.......

  19. Local Group
    Mushroom

    Paralegal Lost

    Him Mr Justice hurled headlong down to flaming restraint and adamantine injunction...

  20. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I was waiting for something like this... There have been a lot of clear, understandable, sensible decisions lately.

  21. All names Taken

    And so, pray tell, was Kordowski telling more mistruths than the legal pro's, was it a draw or was it the other way round?

    Can't imagine a Judge being impartial on that as he probably owed his apprenticeship to some firm or another.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    easy solution

    Just stop paying for hosting. domains, isp, telco

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I forgot.. Pretty soon

    I forgot.. Pretty soon the hosting, domains and isp's will bitch. Then change will happen. Maybe we can get back to business?

  24. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Marty
      Holmes

      its only libellous if it isn't true....

      if every person he represented that was facing a death penalty did indeed loose, then to say so is fact.

      another thing about libel laws in the UK is that they are for rich people who can afford to pay the lawyers to defend it...

      you can say what you like about anyone, makes no difference if its true or not, if you cant afford the lawyers to defend yourself to an accusation of liable then by default you lose !!

      1. Andrew Moore

        "if every person he represented that was facing a death penalty did indeed loose"

        What, they got loose- So everyone that person represented managed to escape from prison??? I don't think you can blame the lawyer for that, just the prison service.

      2. Dave Harris
        Headmaster

        Please check the difference between liability and libel.

  25. K. Adams
    Stop

    With judgements like these...

    ... sites like "Angie's List" could never survive in the UK.

    The Honourable Judge's restrictions against the publication of personal identifying data are understandable; people should be able to rely on some measure of separation between their business and private affairs.

    However, the restrictions against allowing the Public at Large to post negative critiques of businesses with whom they've had dealings has serious Freedom of Speech implications. As long as such negative opinions are expressed in a sensible, forthright manner and do not contain threatening remarks (i.e., they're not out-and-out "flame" attacks, and do not contain any substantive harassing phraseology), the website, its owner, and its users should be in the clear.

  26. Heynonynonymous

    Lazy cliched comments

    Disappointing to see all these posts assuming this is a case of legal world cronyism. I would say it's far more likely that this is some aggressive guy who didn't get the outcome he wanted from a court case, quite possibly because his position had no merit.

    When he was frustrated by the courts he decides to mount a vigilante campaign against lawyers... easy prey. For every court case there's usually at least one person who ends up holding a grudge. Nobody wants to admit that they're the ones at fault, so much easier to blame it on the police/solicitor/barrister/judge *anybody* else.

    I had hoped that readers of The Register would be above such tired cliches as solicitors=bad & legal world=old boys network.

    Grow up.

  27. EngineersAnon

    This is why...

    The burden of proof should always be on the plaintiff. The solicitors in question were not required to demonstrate that a single claim against them was false. And if the "personal information" was the name and professional information of an officer of the court, your data protection laws need as much overhaul as your libel laws.

  28. M.A
    Unhappy

    Should have set it up outside the country. but then i thought all solicitors came from hell.

  29. Harry the Bastard

    well, the only time i've used a solicitor it turned out he was incompetent, he didn't do what he claimed, i'm still stuck with the result

    i never heard of the sfh site before, but now that the solicitors have been kind enough to generate the publicity it seemed well worth bookmarking a wayback gander for future reference...

    http://web.archive.org/web/20110423174326/http://solicitorsfromhell.co.uk/

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm, funny that....

    ... Wayback publish a way to be excluded from the glorious postings that's "been on the internet for any length of time."

    http://www.archive.org/about/exclude.php

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How could he have won? Whatever the merits of the case he was literally up against the whole legal profession. They would've found Mother Theresa guilty!

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    yea right

    Data Protection Act?

    Censorship more like.

  33. Mephistro Silver badge
    Flame

    I've just found this in /.

    And considered it relevant in the context of this discussion.

    http://xkcd.com/250/

    <rant>

    And whoever had the idea of 'Industry Self-Policing Authorities' first , should be hanged. With a piano wire. In Spain lawyers, banks, TVs, telcos and lots of other industries are allowed to use this travesty, in the process wiping their asses with consumer and citizen's rights. Is it so bad in the UK?

    </rant>

  34. Marshalltown
    Joke

    I don't understand

    How can a statement about a lawyer be malicious and defamatory?

    Mine's the one with the hole in the pocket.

  35. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen ....

    Regarding the law and its comfortable closed shop abuses of privilege and trusted authority, which make an ass of the justice system and render its leadership and pompous pontificating members, a conspiracy of tools masquerading as nobody's fools, one is edutained/educated and entertained by this work .......... http://faculty.msb.edu/hasnasj/GTWebSite/MythWeb.htm ...... which if not a wanton fiction must be a statement of certain pertinent impertinent facts unveiling the truth about a self-serving self-preservation society, who would think to sit in superior judgement of one and all and do intellectual battle to either, in simple essence, at the higher levels of the games being played in systems of command and control, power and subjugation, maintain the status quo or pioneer a new world order.

    Some orders are just plain wrong, aren't they, and merely designed to server a hidden failed objective [with Iraq WMD being the obvious recent major perversion and subversion and collusion of the justice system in cynical support of fools' tactless and tasteless acts]

  36. Winkypop Silver badge
    FAIL

    Dodgy solicitors eh?

    Who'd a thunk it?

  37. Scorchio!!

    Tugendhat can clearly stick in his hat:

    http://solicitorsfromhell.net/

    I don't know why he didn't do this in the first place.

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Also

      http://solicitorsfromhell2.com

      http://www.legaljackass.co.uk/index.php

  38. David Gale

    Having personally witnessed the lying, deceiving filth that masqueraded as the FSA (go on, sue me - I have the evidence!) covering up data losses and fraud inside the financial services industry in the Noughties, backed up by the 'safe pairs of hands' that sat on the bench, I can only ask what did anyone expect? If one struggles to get Law in an English court when vested interests are at stake, what chance of justice?

    Readers will note that the course of action recommended by this particular safe pair of hands is a legislative chamber stuffed fulled of lawyers.

    There's one Law for them that 'as and another for them that 'asn't...

  39. h4rm0ny

    I'm not saying the legal industry isn't dubious...

    ...but having had a look at the site and it's level of "professionalism", I'm going to cut the judge some slack here. In order to see if the judge has a bias, you're going to need a better test case than this because looking at this site, an unbiased judge would also probably rule against it.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    is it too late?

    To do the joke...

    "Is a female barrister without her briefs a solicitor?"

  41. T J
    Mushroom

    Cuts both ways

    Interesting when it cuts both ways, huh.

    Realistically, there needs to be a very wide crackdown on the ridiculousness of lawyers fees, in all western countries.

    The party of the last 300 years is now firmly over, its time somebody enforced that.

    In the meantime, I will take any means available of crushing the legal fraternity underboot and grinding them into the dust.

    This site - I like it.

  42. Andy Landy

    the site may well have started in good faith, and the original reports may well have had been valid, BUT... when you have entries like the following:

    "Corrupt cheating lying represent fraudulent clients they create at expense of previous creditors and take backhanders from money laundering clients."

    which appears to be anonymous, and has no supporting evidence, then I'm sorry, but you shouldn't be surprised when m'lud shuts you down...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So, fine - but, if you say it in a newspaper editorial, should the newspaper be shut down?

      If write a book saying it, should the book be banned?

      If you say it in a pub, should the plod come along and shut -you- down? What if you put it on a password protected site for your friends? What about not-password-protected but not advertised?

      What if you yell it out in the pub to 40 people, or say it at open mic night to 60 people, or hire out the establishment and say it to everyone who shows up? What if you put it on a web site that 60 people see? What about 100? What if he'd set this up on a bunch of computers in the street that people could hook their computers to - would his computer have to be taken off?

      How many people have to hear it before it's illegal? Does it matter if they're all family, or all friends, or all colleagues?

      What, precisely, is being banned, here? There are two major reasons, as I see it, to have enshrined freedom of speech: First, it's *right* (Arguments that it's imperfectly applied are irrelevant, so don't even try). Second, it's essentially impossible to define and police without creating arbitrary, senseless boundaries.

      If you ban all anonymous claims which have no supporting evidence, half the internet would be gone - including el Reg, which hosts its share of venomous, baseless attacks (see any article mentioning Apple). Where do you stop? Or do you end up not specifically disallowing some speech, but specifically allowing some speech?

      Whether this guy is a jerk is beside the point. The point is that it's a horribly chilling scenario when the government decides whether your speech was nice enough and true enough for other people to be allowed to see it. There's no reason that bar can't keep moving until it passes -your- speech too.

  43. beerandbiscuits

    I’m glad to see a few common sense posts at the end here. The fact is that this was not somewhere where people went to have their legitimate complaints aired in public. If it was, and the complaints were true and fair, there would be little if anything any of the solicitors could have done about it. The point here is that the solicitors had no means of replying to or correcting the posts. Even if they had been given the opportunity, their duty of confidentiality to their clients prevented them from disclosing the details to the site unless the complainant agreed.

    If you have a complaint about your solicitor, you have plenty of means of redress. You should first complain to the firm. Many people regard this as a waste of time, but if you were an independent supplier in the IT industry and someone had a problem with something you had done, would you be happy if they published your details on a website as being unreliable (or worse) instead of asking you to put it right?

    Second, there is the SRA. If you doubt its willingness to deal with errant solicitors, have a look at the decisions on its website. If the matter is serious enough it will be referred to the solicitors disciplinary tribunal which has wider powers.

    If you want redress because you have suffered loss as a result of a solicitor’s actions or negligence, there are plenty of solicitors who specialise in claiming against other solicitors. This is going to be more difficult from later this year, because of the restrictions on conditional fee agreements, but that is not the fault of the lawyers. As someone mentioned above, all solicitors have to have insurance. If you have a legitimate claim, you will get redress.

    Claims against solicitors in court, or complaints to the SRA are dealt with publicly. The results of complaints and many judgments are published online. If you want to check up on a solicitor before instructing him, go to the SRA’s web site.

    There are crooked solicitors out there. Not many, but some. There are far more negligent solicitors out there, and most of those are negligent through carelessness or oversight rather than recklessness or fraud. Few lawyers will go through a whole career without a complaint of some sort, but that is usually because of the complexity of what we do, not because we are cashing in knowingly against a client’s interests. I, in common with most lawyers, rely on clients returning to me in future, and ripping them off does far more harm to me in the long run than doing my best for them.

    I looked at the sfh site after the firm I then worked for was approached by Kordowski with a view to him referring potential negligence claims to them (in return for a hefty fee to go to K, obviously). The firm declined the offer because after looking at the site, it appeared that nearly all of the complaints related to the following:

    1. the solicitor’s fees. All solicitors’ clients can have these assessed by the court if they wish, and are given information about how to do so at the beginning of the instruction, but that does not involve a claim or a complaint unless the solicitor refuses to deal with it, or

    2. the client losing his case. No matter how good or bad the solicitor representing him, one side has to lose in every contested case - it does not mean that the solicitor was negligent, or

    3. pure, unsubstantiated vitriol.

    If there were legitimate complaints on the site, I could not work out what they were, and I spend my life looking for legitimate complaints amongst reams of irrelevant drivel.

    Yes, I am a lawyer. No I have never been listed on sfh, or (as far as I am aware) any other such site.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Information Commissioner's Office

      In a letter to Desmond Hudson, CEO of the Law Society, the Information Commissioner at the ICO wrote:

      "I have looked at the website (SFH.co.uk) and agree that some of the content that individuals have posted about solicitors is highly offensive, although some of it does strike me as representing, on the face of it, CREDIBLE accounts of the experiences that some individuals may have had of their solicitors"

      and further:

      "… I’m strongly of the view that it is not the purpose of the Data Protection Act to regulate an individual’s right to freedom of expression – even where the individual uses a third party website, rather than his own facilities, to exercise this".

      Nuff said!

  44. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Who said the site was moved to /dev/null ?

    http://web.archive.org/web/20080415122032/http://www.solicitorsfromhell.co.uk/component/listing,/option,com_directory/page,viewListing/lid,131/Itemid,0/

    As for Peter2, I doubt what you are saying is true, else that would have been mentioned in the court case! Heck, these pieces of scum would have had the guy "hanged" for that, if it had been true. The site would have been taken down real quick. So please, no lies.

    I see several issues with the site: no logon, so anybody could write anything about anybody without any sort of control. Some comments seem quite real, whereas others just insult the lawyers/solicitors in question. The "personal data" was just the address of the offices as well as the names of the law professionals - hardly "personal data".

    I have had an issue with a lawyer myself, the bitch overcharged me. My parents had an issue with a solicitor, who modified the conveyance after it was signed - unfortunately, due to a burglary, the copies we had were destroyed - the solicitor in question had already deceased when the other party started complaining. The falsification was very badly done, as a different typewriter was used to add the line, it was not in line with the rest of the document and did not make any sense as to what belonged to whom.

    Why don't lawyers sunbave on the beach? They keep getting buried by cats.

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