High Court orders solicitor slagging site to close for good...
In what may be seen as a win for the legal profession and a loss for the general public, the High Court have finally decided to order the closure of the legal review website Solicitors from Hell. Site owner Rock Kordowski was labelled a "public nuisance" by Judge Tugendhat who rejected Kordowski's claim that he provided a "public service".
For those who have not been following our coverage of this long running saga, the site owned by Kordowski allowed members of the public to submit "reviews" of their instructed solicitor and share their experience with anyone wishing to search the site. As with any review site there are bound to be advantages and some disadvantages. It is pretty straightforward to understand the advantages - you get to know a little bit about who you are going to be paying to undertake a service for you. As for disadvantages, to my mind there are plenty.
One of the biggest being the fact that (after having read MANY submitted reviews) some of the reviews appeared to be left in revenge to being on the wrong side of a decision made by the courts. Some reviews didn't appear to question the conduct throughout the matter of the solicitor but it ultimately centred around the fact that the courts decided against them in their case. Unless the instructed legal representative was negligent in his work (which unfortunately is not uncommon) then the outcome was entirely down to the courts. Is it fair that a review is left against the solicitor when they have essentially performed their obligation to represent you and your best interests? There is always a winner and a loser in litigation. It did not seem as if these reviews were regulated in a way that they probably should have been. How was the site ensuring that any reviews being left were with merit? This is partly where Kordowski failed - he was not able to demonstrate that the comments being left on his site were justified which is a defence to defamation.
When solicitors realised that their details were on the site unfairly, Kordowski allowed the solicitor to request the data to be removed but would charge £299 per listing removal. When questioned about why he would allow what he believed to be genuine reviews to be removed, he called it a publicity stunt to draw attention to his site. Shortly after, Kordowski no longer accepted payment to remove reviews.
Judge Tugendhat was concerned that those easily influenced would be put off by some of the vexatious reviews. "Discouraging people in need of legal advice from instructing good lawyers is as much against the public interest as encouraging them to instruct bad lawyers. At worst it may lead to miscarriages of justice ... At the least it will lead to restrictions on the consumers' freedom of choice, and to distortion of the free market in legal services,".
I have never personally been against any type of review website. In fact, I probably use a fair few myself. However, I don't think that a legal review site would ever work. I would welcome any suggestions as to how it would. Not even if a site was run in such a way that every single review was scrutinised to ensure it was close to being "fair". The way that the legal system works just wouldn't ensure that all reviews being left are impartial. Don't get me wrong, there are many solicitors that would deserve to be named and shamed. Complaints to the Law Society and then the Legal Ombudsman ensure that this can happen after a thorough investigation but obviously many unscrupulous solicitors don't "get caught".
Do you see the closure as good or bad news? Can you see a legal review site ever working?
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