Shoosmiths wins Which? apology

Shoosmiths & Harrison has won a High Court apology from the consumer magazine Which? following a year-long libel battle over one of its surveys.

The survey on the quality of legal advice, published in Oct ober last year, prompted both sides to launch libel actions against each other – Shoosmiths over the report, and Which? over the firm's criticisms of the survey's quality.

Robert Clinton, solicitor for Shoosmiths, told Mr Justice French last week that Which? had accepted that its claim that Shoosmiths gave no advice about costs before a meeting “was wholly unjustified”.

He said Which? had offered its sincere apologies to the law firm, which had chosen to waive any claim for damages on the basis that Which? had agreed to pay its costs.

The costs are understood to be in the region of £9,000.

Clinton added that the consumer magazine also confirmed it had not intended a general claim that solicitors insisted on expensive appointments when problems were relatively straightforward to refer to Shoosmiths.

Clinton went on to say that by publicly refuting the survey's claims about it, Shoosmiths had not meant to criticise other aspects of the report, and was sorry for any confusion caused. He said Which? was prepared to let that matter rest.

Caroline Kean, solicitor for Which?, said the magazine very much regretted that the article had wrongly alleged Shoosmiths failed to give proper information about costs and that it may have given the impression the firm was guilty of other shortcomings highlighted in the report. She said the firm had provided appropriate information to Which? researchers at all stages and its advice had been correct in law.

Kean added that the magazine was happy to accept the law firm's assurances that its rejection of the survey's findings was intended to refer only to matters that concerned Shoosmiths.

After the hearing, Shoosmiths partner Graham New said he was “delighted” with the outcome.