Solicitors from Hell founder loses defamation case

The founder of consumer website Solicitors from Hell has lost another defamation case in the High Court, with Mr Justice Tugendhat ordering him to pay £10,000 to Marlow firm Gabbitas Robins.

The firm filed libel proceedings against Rick Kordowski, who runs the controversial website, after it published a detailed complaint by Tim Smee, who had sued a Gabbitas Robins client called Mr Bonwick.

In his complaint Smee alleged that partner Stephen Robins had lied to him about Bonwick’s ability to pay damages should Smee win the case. Smee went on to settle his claim.

In April this year Gabbitas Robins won a High Court judgment for damages to be assessed against Kordowski, in default of defence of its libel claim. In June the firm applied for summary disposal of the claim, following an application from Kordowski to have the April judgment set aside.

This morning Tugendhat J dismissed Kordowski’s application, and said the libel claim should not go to a full trial.

He made a declaration finding the comments on Solicitors from Hell defamatory, saying: “The allegations that Mr Robins had lied in the course of the litigation between Mr Bonwick and Mr Smee, and that Mr Robins had acted in any way dishonestly or in breach of his duty to his client Mr Bonwick, are false and defamatory of him and the claimant firm.”

Tugendhat J also granted an injunction restraining Kordowski from repeating Smee’s allegations against Robins, and entered judgment against him for damages of £10,000.

The judgment is another blow to Kordowski, who has lost or settled a number of other libel claims against Solicitors from Hell. The Law Society is also considering a potential class action against the website (11 May 2011).

Kordowski was represented pro bono by Cloisters Chambers’ Jonathan Crystal. Wilberforce Chambers’ Nikki Singla was instructed by Gabbitas Robins.