Which? fights Shoosmiths with libel writ

THE CONSUMERS' Association has issued a libel writ against a firm which accused it of botching up the damning Which? survey on the quality of legal advice.

The writ against Shoosmiths & Harrison follows the Northampton firm's own writ against the association. The firm claimed the association wrongly said in its Which? survey that the firm had failed to warn a researcher of the cost of an appointment.

The Consumers' Association has already publicly apologised to Shoosmiths over what it has described as a “minor factual error” in the survey.

Now it is claiming it was itself libelled in a report in the Law Society's journal, The Gazette, which quoted managing partner Michael Orton-Jones attacking the Which? report.

Senior lawyer at the association Keith Richards cited Orton-Jones' reported claim that it had got all its facts wrong as an example of the alleged defamation.

He added that the association was still considering launching a libel action against the Law Society which mounted a ferocious rearguard action against the survey's charges that solicitors were handing out shoddy and inappropriate advice.

Shoosmiths partner Peter Ellis, who is handling the action against the association, said he could not comment on the writ because he had not yet seen it.

The Law Society is standing by its own claims, which are vigorously denied by the association, that Which? got its own legal advice wrong and used shoddy methodology.