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Legal Analysis

Solicitors from Hell

Solicitors from Hell (www.solicitorsfromhell.co.uk) was a website that gained notoriety for allowing users to post negative reviews and complaints about solicitors and legal professionals.

Created by Rick Kordowski, the site became a platform for airing grievances and sharing experiences related to legal services. However, it also faced legal challenges due to its controversial content.

Mr. Justice Tugendhat ordered the immediate removal of the entire Solicitors from Hell website in November 2011, but it is still available on the Wayback Machine from the Internet Archive.

The Internet Archive (archive.org) is believed to be hosted outside of England and Wales and is therefore not subject to the injunction.

It should be noted – What happens on the internet stays on the internet forever !

The last version of the Solicitors from Hell (www.solicitorsfromhell.co.uk) website was captured by the Internet Archive on the 12th November 2011.

https://solicitorsfromhell.co.uk now leads to a blank WordPress site.

Please Note : This article is for educational purposes and contains information freely available on the Internet. Solicitors are regularly named or shamed on the Internet.

Background and Purpose of the Website

  • The Solicitors from Hell website was established in 2005. It allowed individuals to anonymously share their experiences with specific solicitors and law firms.
  • Contributors were required to pay a fee (ranging from £1 to £100) based on the prominence of their posting.
  • The website also charged solicitors a £299 “administration fee” to have their names removed from the site.
  • The website aimed to expose wrongdoing and “blacklist” firms and solicitors to avoid.

The Website’s Impact

The Solicitors From Hell website allowed users to anonymously share their experiences with specific solicitors and law firms. While some saw it as a valuable resource for holding legal professionals accountable, others criticized it for its lack of verification and potential for defamation.

  • Being included on a website purporting to list “solicitors from hell” was considered defamatory in itself.
  • The website caused serious damage to the reputations of solicitors, firms, and others listed, resulting in loss, embarrassment, anxiety, and distress.
  • By publishing and republishing such material, the website operator knowingly harassed those listed, as the information was widely disseminated via search engines.

Legal Battles

  1. High Court Victory for Rick Kordowski
    • Rick Kordowski, the founder of Solicitors From Hell, faced numerous lawsuits related to the website. In most cases, he lost.
    • Rick Kordowski was sued 18 times in relation to the Solicitors from Hell website he founded.
    • However, there was one unexpected victory.
    • In December 2014, Mr. Kordowski successfully applied to set aside a judgment in default and an injunction imposed on him by Mr. Justice Stuart-Smith. Representing himself, he argued that he had nothing to do with the construction and publication of certain websites, including a Solicitors From Hell successor referred to as XYZ.net.
    • Although it was “highly improbable” that Mr. Kordowski had no involvement with XYZ.net, the judge acknowledged that his arguments could succeed. The court concluded that he had a “real prospect of successfully defending the claim”.
  2. Interim Injunctions Against the Website Owner
    • In October 2010, a second High Court judge issued an interim injunction banning Rick Kordowski from publishing or republishing defamatory material about a lawyer from a London firm. This was the second time in less than a month that a court had issued such an order against him.
  3. Defamatory Statements and Damages
    • A law firm, described as “shameless, corrupt, fraudulent, dishonest, unethical, incompetent, and oppressive,” sued the operators of a spin-off of the Solicitors From Hell website. The judge ruled that the comments made were defamatory, and damages were awarded.
  4. Class Action Lawsuit
    • Brett Wilson LLP brought a claim on behalf of the Law Society, Hine Solicitors, and Kevin McGrath against Rick Kordowski. The lawsuit aimed to address the impact of the Solicitors From Hell website on legal professionals.
    • Mr. Justice Tugendhat handed down a judgment in a claim brought by Brett Wilson LLP on behalf of the Law Society, Hine Solicitors, and Kevin McGrath against Rick Kordowski, the operator and publisher of the Solicitors from Hell website.
    • Mr. Justice Tugendhat ordered the immediate removal of the entire Solicitors from Hell website.
    • An injunction granted on November 2, 2011, preventing the defendant from transferring data related to the website, continued.
    • Further orders prohibited the defendant from publishing or establishing similar websites inviting negative comments about legal professionals, where such comments could lead to harassment or unlawful processing of personal data.

The class action highlighted the delicate balance between freedom of expression and the potential harm caused by unverified online content related to legal professionals.

Conclusion

The Solicitors From Hell website stirred controversy and legal battles, highlighting the delicate balance between freedom of expression and the potential harm caused by unverified online content. While it provided an outlet for grievances, it also faced criticism for its lack of accountability.

  • Do you think solicitors and other legal professionals should be held to account ?
  • Was the Solicitors From Hell website published in the public interest ?
  • Would the legal profession succeed, in the Courts in 2024, to stifle legitimate criticism and concerns ?
  • Was your solicitor or legal professional ever listed on Solicitors From Hell ?

Check out our articles on Solictors, Mayo Wynne Baxter, SRA, Barristers, Direct Access Barristers, Bar Standards Board, Bar Standards Board Justice ?, Rule of Law, and the highly questionable Sussex Family Justice Board.

Read the reviews of Junior Sussex Barrister Gavin Howe and Legal 500 Junior Barrister Eleanor Battie

“He is awful, underhanded and should not be practising law!”

She is a one-woman legal A Team”

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