Solicitors from Hell drops deletion charge – deckchairs on the Titanic?

deckchairs titanicFrom Solicitors Journal 22/02/11:

Solicitors from Hell, the website which has repeatedly been on the receiving end of libel actions for hosting defamatory attacks on lawyers, has dropped its £299 deletion fee.

Rick Kordowski, owner of Solicitors from Hell, said the £299 fee for removing a critical comment was “no longer available” to law firms. It is not known how many firms paid the fee to avoid hostile comments.

Kordowski said the fee was “initially a publicity stunt” which worked successfully and resulted in coverage in the legal press and some of the national media.

Really? What a curious way of gaining publicity. And what a nice side effect it had!

The owner of Solicitors from Hell was responding to remarks from Jane Hickman, joint senior partner of criminal specialists Hickman & Rose, which settled a defamation action against the website last week.

A statement from the firm said Kordowski had agreed never to publish anything more about the firm or its solicitors.

The settlement with the firm followed two separate actions by solicitors at Hickman & Rose, who won damages of £15,000 each plus costs from Kordowski at the High Court.

Hickman said Kordowski offered to settle the case with the firm on the basis that any mention of Hickman & Rose would be removed from the Solicitors from Hell website, and the firm would be mentioned instead on its sister site for good solicitors, Solicitors from Heaven.

Hickman said she rejected the offer and Kordowski declined to comment on the issue.

The Solicitors from Heaven website says it can “assist you in avoiding the scams, pitfalls, rip offs and ruthless solicitors that seem to be everywhere”.

Hmmm. I’m not sure that two wrongs make a right.

Giving judgment earlier this month in an action brought by Juliet Farrall, a solicitor at McCormacks, Mr Justice Lloyd Jones said the defamation was made worse by the fact Kordowski tried to charge £299 to remove the posting.

Farrall was awarded £10,000 in damages.

In October last year, Megan Phillips, a solicitor at Bhatt Murphy, was awarded £17,500 in damages plus £28,000 in costs by Mr Justice Eady for defamation by Solicitors from Hell. This was the first of five libel actions against Kordowski to reach court.

In a written response last week, Kordowski said it was “interesting to note” that all the claims against him (where the poster of a listing decided to remain anonymous) came from either current or former employees of Hickman & Rose.

Which suggests that anything said by them should be taken with an even greater pinch of salt, no?

“Funny that!” he said. “Oh, and no, I don’t intend to pay anyone. (I have no money nor assets.)”

It seems to me that Solicitors from Hell is just a magnet for abuse.  In today’s world of consumer-primacy, you can’t move for rubbing a hypersensitive and petulant individual up the wrong way, who inevitably feels they’ve been unjustifiably wronged and are deserving of recompense.

It’s widely recognised that all clients like to feel that they’re the only one on the solicitor’s books and can’t understand the darn impertinence of the said solicitor when he or she doesn’t return calls instantaneously. What if an otherwise good Solicitor made a wardrobe faux pas, donning on a style of tie that wasn’t to the client’s liking, then delivered news to the client that they didn’t want to hear? What’s to stop that client from getting his or her panties in a bunch and posting a biased entry on Solicitors From Hell?

In other words, it’s become entirely impossible to judge the genuine complaints from the fake ones, and whilst the initial was a good one, I think it’s clear for all to see that it’s deeply flawed in practice.  It’s all too easy for clients to throw something up on Solicitors For Hell with no real means of substantiating allegations, or righting the wrongs to the overwhelming majority of solicitors out there who provide excellent service to their clients.

I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating, Rick Kordowski should just knock this one on the head; running the site is too much trouble, it doesn’t produce the service to the public that was initially hoped for and he should throw his efforts into something else.  It was an interesting idea but it’s degenerated into something that it shouldn’t have - a group of mothers outside the school gate meeting for a good ol’ bitch and moan who have little interest in the truth.

Comments

  1. It's hardly as though it started out with such lofty high-minded goals. The whole thing grew out of a long-festering spat between Kordowski and Moss & Coleman, and the entire tone of the site - repeated use of capitalised words like TOSSERS and WANKERS, graphics of someone giving the middle finger - all set the standard long before a single grievance was ever aired by any member of the public.

    Reading a random sampling of "complaints", it's clear the vast, vast majority of posters can be safely discounted as paid-up members of the green ink brigade, a self-selecting sample limited to those who were (a) not put off by the unprofessional language and tone employed by Kordowski, and (b) didn't care that the site was happy to delete their complaint in exchange for a cash bribe.

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