Four years ago I came out of the BBC after a heated radio discussion with the former CEO of the Law Society, Des Hudson, about the website Solicitors from Hell. He was furious with the website for defaming lawyers while I said it's a manifestation of a feeling among the public that you should tackle: don't shoot the messenger.
Of course they shot him (Kordowski). The court imposed damages, injunctions and closure. But I pointed out to Des, this is the internet. Solicitors from Hell will pop up elsewhere outside the UK jurisdiction and you won't be able to do anything about it. Mirrors, dear boy, mirrors....
In a judgment by Mr Justice Warby in the Queen's Bench Division, the boutique law firm, Brett Wilson, sought and obtained summary judgment against Solicitors from Hell (solicitorsfromhelluk.com) in its latest manifestation this September--damages and an injunction.
I'm not going to rehash the case except to say the judge declared the words used had a defamatory tendency. See paragraph 25 of the judgment. But much of what the judge said referred to bringing unknown defendants to court. The problem being that no one could discover who the operators of this website were. No one ever replied to the plaintiffs' communications.
WHOIS searches revealed the owner to be Anonymous Speech, a proxy registrant, and appeals to them brought no response. There were two physical addresses, one in Tokyo and another in Panama. The claims were brought against "Persons Unknown". And successfully so.
Yet Solicitors from Hell is still there. And it's there in more than one manifestation. There are solicitors fromhelluk.com, solicitorsfromhell.com, as well as cowboysolicitors.com.
I'm not sure what Brett Wilson or the courts think they've gained by this. Brett Wilson has a moment's publicity via the Law Society Gazette saying they were defamed, which will be forgotten, in a flash; a claim for damages that will never be enforced; an injunction that is virtually unenforceable; against the continuation of a newly-publicised website far from the reach of the courts.
This is a losing battle for the legal profession. In fact it's a bit like wars in the Middle East. It doesn't matter how much you bomb them, they ain't going away. Constructive engagement is the only way to go.