A consumer website that claims to “name and shame” underperforming lawyers is being sued for libel by a personal injury lawyer who was criticised on the site.
Lawyer Scott Eason has instructed Carter-Ruck to pursue Rick Kordowski, the owner of solicitors fromhell.co.uk, for damages after two consumers posted negative comments about his ethics.
Carter-Ruck issued a High Court writ against Kordowski on behalf of Eason when he refused to remove the comments from the website.
Kordowski, the writ states, informed Carter-Ruck “that he had an ’administration and monitoring procedure’ whereby he would only remove postings (whether they were true or false) if the solicitor or firm complained about paid him between £99 and £299”.
It continues: “When he was informed that this was ’akin to extortion’ he maintained his position.”
In an interview given to the Law Society Gazette in January, Kordowski talked about the system, the writ states.
It added: “It can be inferred from the admissions he made […] and his refusal to respond to Carter-Ruck’s letter of claim unless paid, [that the defendant is] acting with the guilty knowledge that the chances of economic advantage for him in obtaining a payment of between £99 and £299 from the claimant outweighed the chance of economic penalty by being sued for libel by the claimant.”
Kordowski said: “I’ve put a lot of time and energy into this project and still had to pay the running costs so I decided to invite the aggrieved contributors to make donations to the site to offset the running costs. The result was very little income – not enough to pay the outgoings.
“In November 2009 I hit upon the idea of charging the solicitors a fee to take off the listings. A few solicitors have obliged and paid up. But it’s not a money-making enterprise and it’s never been my intention to extort money from solicitors. Indeed, several firms sent me a maximum fee to delete the listing on them but I returned the money as it was in the permanent category of listings that the contributor didn’t want removed at all.”
He added: “Why Scott Eason is suing someone who has no money has me baffled.”