Law firms are considering their options after a website that published anonymous criticisms of lawyers was sued by one of the firms it attacked.
The solicitorsfromhell.co.uk website solicits comments from users about law firms and solicitors.
But one of the lawyers named on the site accused it of unfairly damaging the firm with unsupported allegations. And his lawyers said the site was attempting to charge law firms money to get the comments taken down.
Rick Kordowski, the owner of the website, was sued by lawyer Scott Eason, the principal at north-eastern firm Eason Law, for damages after it published negative comments about his work and ethics.
He hired libel lawyers Carter Ruck and was seeking damages of between £50,000 and £100,000.
Mr Kordowski later removed the comments and apologised to the lawyers, admitting they were “false and defamatory”.
The case will be noted by many of the other firms that are attacked on the site, including Warwickshire solicitors Alsters Kelley, who are named prominently.
Catherine Wahlberg, the managing partner of Alsters Kelley, said: “While we understand that clients may occasionally wish to complain, we do not believe that it is appropriate for websites to host comment which is factually incorrect, posted by other parties, or focused on decisions that have been made by the court within proceedings.
‘‘In the past, we have been invited to pay money to have content removed from these sites. As a matter of principle, this is not something that we will consider. There is a serious lack of objectivity in such content. We have a good procedure to deal with any complaints and make this known to all of our clients.
“We have one of the largest law departments offering publicly-funded family work in Coventry and Warwickshire. The nature of the work is such that there can be high emotional tension. The sensitive nature of these cases means it is not appropriate for any party to comment in the public arena. Sites like these merely focus on the emotional suffering of the families involved.”
The claim launched by Mr Eason through Carter Ruck said that the website had what they called an “administration and monitoring procedure” that said it would remove postings made about firms or individuals if they paid between £99 and £299.
Carter Ruck described this as “akin to extortion” in the writ issued to Kordowski.
After the matter was resolved, Mr Eason put out a statement saying: “I am happy and relieved that this case has now settled. I felt very strongly about what was published about me and I could not allow the allegations to remain on the internet.
“I initially wrote to Mr Kordowski myself asking for the allegations to be taken down, but he refused to do this without payment. As a matter of principle, I refused to pay Mr Kordowski any money and he left me with no option but to issue libel proceedings against him.
“I am glad that Mr Kordowski has accepted the allegations are false, taken them down from his website and apologised to me.”