Has Solicitors from hell website sold out?

From Solicitors Journal 02/06/10:

The founder of a website which invites disgruntled clients to vent their spleen has escaped huge damages after his first libel threat ended in settlement.

Solicitor Scott Eason agreed to waive claims for up to £100,000 damages in his High Court action against www.solicitorsfromhell.co.uk in exchange for a full apology.

Leading libel firm Carter-Ruck, representing Mr Eason, published the apology in full and announced the settlement would ensure the website could never publish similar criticisms of the firm again.

In the apology to Mr Eason, website owner Rick Kordowski said: “I did not know at the time of publication that the allegations were false, but I now understand they are.

“On that basis, they should never have been published.

solicitors from hell The website, ‘solicitors from hell’ has grown in prominence of late and although I’ve always understood the basic premise, I’m still not sure I buy into it as a concept.

I get the whole freedom of expression stance and the public good it does through warning would-be clients about certain firms of solicitors they might want to avoid. This too, in many respects, should be regarded as being good for the profession in that it acts an additional watchdog and helps keep law firms on the straight and narrow, with clients’ needs at the forefront of their concern.

But how accountable and dependable is that watchdog? Having a look over the site again, it strikes me as being more akin to a central forum for rants and raves from clients who, after having had a bad day at the office, are looking for a quick and easy avenue to vent their grievances. Clients are rarely renowned for their ability to exercise good judgement and being personally involved in emotional, high value situations in which their personal wealth is on the line, they are even less likely to analyse things objectively.

There are, of course, two sides to every story and whilst there are some crooked solicitors out there, the problem is arguably overstated. Unless there’s a lot of research and validation on the front-end, surely the submission process centres on a take action first and ask questions later kind of set up? What kind of background checks are done?  How substantiated do the allegations need to be.  What’s their takedown policy? You’ll find precious few answers on SFH website.

And talking of their take-down policy, Kordowski freely admits that he’ll remove a law firm after they’ve bought one of his removal ‘packages’. Far be it for me to say, but some cynics might equate this to extortion masquerading as philanthropy. The tiered payment options started at £99 extending to £299 (with the label ‘most popular’ adorning the most expensive option) smacks of a well thought out business model rather than a garage-ran vigilante fight for the cause kind of thing.

And given that the agreements hinge on future mentions being removed also, how does that square with the supposed philanthropic aims being behind the site’s creation?

But I don’t know. On balance, I guess, it’s still good that this site is available. Some of it goes too far in my opinion and does itself a disservice in coming across as petty (the link saying, ‘if you’re from Firm X click here” which opens a pop up window featuring some charmer flipping you the bird, being a case in point).

Plus, it just seems to me that solicitors from hell is veritable honeypot for libel claims. Is running the site really worth the risk, hassle and stress?

Comments

  1. Charging to remove negative posts looks extremely bad from both sides - to lawyers it looks exactly like a website charging money to take down damaging claims online and to consumers it looks like letting the lawyer that screwed up your divorce pay for criticism to disappear. The only person who benefits from that is the guy who gets paid and that's a bad move.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A lot of the time clients, who don't fully understand the procedure, blame their lawyers for things that are out of their control.

    In personal injury, some clients fail to understand the elements of tort... They can't get their heads around the fact that their injury does not prove negligence on its own.

    So yeah... The website is flawed! If you want to find a good lawyer, go to Legal500...

    ReplyDelete
  3. If those removal fees are being paid, I guess the comments etc left on the site probably have an impact on business.

    I agree with Andro... the website is flawed. Yet I honestly doubt that a reasonable person would rubbish a lawyer if they carried out their job well (even if the matter didn't go in their favour)... Then again, if someone has spent a lot of money not to get the return they thought they would might leave them to be slightly irrational.

    Its not a site I would trust.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sally Anne Griffiths25 June 2010 at 13:00

    Clients all too often are excellent judges of solicitors' and barristers' failings. A lazy element of the legal profession has hidden behind the maxim 'we know about your case better than you it's our job so don't challenge us' in order to swindle people, for too long.

    A web site where people can state their case is a very good thing.

    I agree however that the payment issue is a problem.

    Rick's clients are being swindled if a solicitor or barrister can pay just £300.00 to get all complaints about him/her removed.

    After all, if a useles lawyer has swindled a client, then he made that amount every hour he swindled them- so Rick is skimming money from other people's serious miseries and providing no long term solution.

    On the other hand, you can't ask a lone man to take on the legal profession for nothing. Rick does say that all you have to do to keep a posting on his site permanently is pay him just £10.00 .

    If all useless and bent solicitors have to do to get rid of a stated case against them on that site is send Rick an aggressive letter telling him to take the post down, then the site is redundant.

    As I understand it, Scott Eason never had to show any proof that his clients' complaints were invalid, he just hired Carter Ruck.

    If Barrister x, a useless swindling creep ( half the profession in my opinion) bullies a defendant, then bullies Rick into taking down a complaint, then you have just got the legal mafia patrolling the Internet and that is no use at all.

    The site is probably a forerunner to a more serious one. It has unearthed the rage and disgust most of the UK feels against the profession and its way of covering up its evil tracks - and the contempt people feel about the delusions of academic status and delusions of grandeur in the legal profession.

    Come the day there is a free website that stands up to arrogant libel solicitors entirely, then the legal profession as we know it with its swindling ways is finished.

    Soon, hopefully.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is a scam that is exploiting google suggestions. Here's how the scam works:

    1) user types in "solicitor" into google and as you are typing the search term "solicitors from hell" is suggested.
    2) User think "that's interesting" and goes to the site
    3) User is encouraged to post negative comments about solicitors
    4) The site then charges solicitors to remove the comments

    The website owner depends on a couple of things to make this work.

    a) Googles reluctance to edit their search suggestions, ensuring that this will always be displayed prominently when searching for "solicitor"
    b) The damaging impact this can have on a firms business when something so negative is so prominent in google

    Most small firms will take the easy route and pay up to have the false accusations removed from the site as this is the cheapest and easiest way to ensure their reputations remain intact.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Glory Anne Clibbery17 October 2010 at 09:53

    If you have a serious complaint against a Senior Solicitor it is virtually impossible to further it.

    There should be an Independent Commission to decide if a complaint is valid and if a complaint goes forward before the Court, it should go before more than one Law Lord.

    Litigants should be allowed to state if they believe there has been misfeasance within their claim.

    A Judge should not say they will not listen to legal precedent from a self litigant or deny a self litigent a short break (that would not prejudice the accused) to seek legal advice especially in a legal negligence claim.

    All hearings in England should be recorded. They should also be videoed. A copy of the recording/video should be available to the litigants as a matter of course and to the public on application. There should be no secret Courts in England unless it is a matter of National Security.

    If filed documents are taken off the system especially in a legal negligence case or tampered with, there should be an investigation of how this occurred.

    Judges should be appointed by a lottery system (not a relatively low paid clerk).

    It should not be possible for a powerful firm to point a case at a particular Judge to guarantee a particular result!

    Judges who set about garnering certain types of cases to bring in a back door privacy law or any other undemocratic law should be fired.

    There is a need for a legal complaint forum but people with valid complaints should sign them and leave their contact details.

    If the legal system continues to be unaccountable as to behaviour and costs it should not continue to self regulate.

    Sunday 17th October 2010

    ReplyDelete
  7. The solicitor should be also be empathetic and understanding to the needs of the patient and the make sure that in your contract any fees and costs should be you incur for the solicitor should be taken from the opponent and the not from the your compensation.

    ReplyDelete
  8. If you want a good lawyer avoid legal 500.

    In my experience Legal 500 are as bad as the site in question letting lawyers pay to cover up their greed. I was ripped of by an outfit of lawyers in Chester I reported it to Legal 500. The very same year I suffered out and out negligence from this out fit legal 500 advertied the outfit as a good bet to go to with a legal problem. My experience if you want a good lawyer the last place to look is legal 500 and the last place to ask is the law society the best advise is go by recomendation always but watch evry penny because few lawyers do the actual work that runs up the huge bills they dish out.

    Proper independance for handling of complaints and weeding out of sharp practice ( often tantamount to theft) is whats needed. That is the only way to get this profession off the starting line towards giving clients value for money.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular Posts