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Mr Justice Tugendhat has dismissed a £1m defamation claim launched against Law Society chief executive Des Hudson by Solicitors from Hell owner Rick Kordowksi, branding the bid “an abuse of the court process”.
Tugendhat J struck out the application without hearing oral submissions from Hudson’s counsel, Matrix Chambers’ Hugh Tomlinson QC, at the High Court last week.
The judge said Kordowski’s complaint of spoken slander against Hudson could not be allowed because he had not made a complaint against Professor Flood of the University of Westminster, who had repeated the alleged slander on his blog.
Tugendhat J concluded: “Whether or not there is a good reason for refraining from suing in libel on the words posted by Professor Flood, that is not relevant to my decision that the action for slander on the words spoken to Professor Flood [by Hudson] is an abuse of the process of the court.”
Kordowski launched his claim against Hudson in September (2 September 2011), alleging that Hudson was guilty of slander because he had labelled Kordowski a “criminal” when speaking to Flood at BBC studios.
It came as the Law Society threatened to bring injunctive action against Kordowski to force him to have his site, which provides a public forum for legal complaints, removed from the internet.
Hudson moved to have Kordowski’s claim stuck out, while Kordowski instructed Cloisters barrister Jonathan Crystal to request a summary judgment on the grounds that the defence had no real prospect of success.
Hudson told the court he had no recollection of calling Kordowski a “criminal” while Professor Flood said he had.
Giving his judgment today the judge stated: “It is impossible for me to say on the documents before me that the defence has no real prospect of success on the issue of whether the words spoken by Mr Hudson were as alleged by Professor Flood or not.”
He added that Kordowksi had not sought to prevent the alleged slander from being repeated. The judge said: “Those who have suffered injury to their reputations and distress by reason of defamatory words published to the world at large do not commonly choose to repeat those allegations and republish them to the world at large.
“It is an unusual feature of this case that Mr Kordowski is not concerned to prevent republication, but has himself participated in republication of the words he complains of. That suggests that he does not share the objective that defamation claimants usually have, namely to prevent republication of the words complained of.”
It is understood that following the trial the Law Society served Kordowski with a claim on behalf of the entire profession in England and Wales.
As Kordowski is bankrupt the body is not looking for financial relief but does want the court to have the site taken down. Tomlinson is also representing the Law Society in that action.