News: Awdry Bailey & Douglas v Kordowski – another “Solicitors from Hell” case

29 03 2011

Summary judgment was entered yesterday against Mr Rick Kordowski in another “Solicitors from Hell” case yesterday.  The Devizes firm of Awdry, Bailey and Douglas and the head of its family law department, Adrian Bressington, applied for summary judgment and to strike out Mr Kordowski’s defence.  Judgment was entered for a permanent injunction and Mr Kordowski was ordered to take down the posting and to pay costs of £9,853.80 to by Monday 11 April 2011.   Mr Justice Tugendhat indicated that he would give a reasoned judgment at a later date.

The firm and Mr Bressington had sued Mr Kordowski over a posting which described him as a “crooked solicitor” and made a number of accusations against him. The material was posted by a Mr Line, a man whose wife Mr Bressington represented in divorce proceedings.

We thank Mr Benjamin Pell for the following note of Mr Kordowski’s submissions yesterday.  This provides an interesting insight into Mr Kordowski’s state of mind and modus operandi:

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “I will hear now from Mr Kordowski”

Mr Kordowski: “I have no money and there is nothing further that I can say on that. I do have an arguable Qualified Privilege defence and according to Section 1 Defamation Act 1996, I am not the author of the words on the website”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “But you are a publisher and anyway you didn’t take reasonable care in relation to the publication. As the name of the website indicates, what you publish is defamatory of solicitors.”

Mr Kordowski: “Not necessarily and I contacted the author”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “But that was after you published. You didn’t contact him beforehand”.

Mr Kordowski: “The author assured me that it was true. “

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “But he hadn’t given you any details”

Mr Kordowski: “He has now produced two witness statements”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “But he has to go into details about the very serious allegations that a solicitor has lied”.

Mr Kordowski: “I would like an adjournment in order to obtain further details”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “Why should I grant an adjournment? You have had several opportunities to provide that information and it has been six months since publication”.

Mr Kordowski: “That is true”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “The courts are generally willing to give defendants an extension of time if it can be shown that there is a good reason to do so and if an extension of time will enable them to produce an amended defence in the proper form. But your fourth and fifth efforts rely on statements from Mr Line and are still not in the form required by the Civil Procedure rules”

Mr Kordowski: “Mr Line goes into detail about the case and…”

Mr Justice Tugendhat “Let us have a look at what he actually says. The only factual matter for which he gives a date is the date when the Claimant first represented Mrs Line in the divorce proceedings. There are no other details and no other dates provided. He says that the Claimant milked the process for as long as he could and he lined his and the firm’s pockets. But he doesn’t provide any facts in support of this at all . It is a very serious allegation to make about a solicitor. Mr Line feels aggrieved by the divorce proceedings and the course it took and that is not unusual. He has chosen to blame the solicitors rather than his wife”

Mr Kordowski: “But his wife cannot disagree with what I have published on my website.The Claimant hasn’t responded to these allegations and explained why they behaved in that way”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: ” Why should a Claimant have to answer that? It is for you to prove the truth of the allegations. “

Mr Kordowski: “But myself and the author consider that it should be protected by Qualified Privilege and a lot of what is published is the author’s opinion. “

Mr Justice Tugendhat:”Based on no facts which are set out in the publication and with the court not being given any factual information about the solicitors”

Mr Kordowski: “The evidence is obtainable if you can give me a few days”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “I am not going to adjourn this matter, Mr Kordowski. It has gone on far too long. You will have to make do with what you have. You are a mature man, Mr Kordowski. What is your professional backround?”

Mr Kordowski: “I am a graphic designer”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “Are you employed?”

Mr Rick Kordowski: “I am self-employed but currently have no work”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “Is there anything else that you want to say?”

Mr Rick Kordowski: “There are my Terms And Conditions. They state that you musn’t write defamatory comments and you should be as truthful as possible”.

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “But with a title Solicitors From Hell, how can it be anything other than defamatory?”

Mr Rick Kordowski: “I also publish Solicitors From Heaven”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “Yes but how can anything on this website be anything other than defamatory?”

Mr Rick Kordowski: “That’s true”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “It looks like a vehicle for you to demand money from solicitors. Looking at Page 21 of the bundle, you wrote to the Claimant and gave him what you called the option to mitigate his loss and damages by submitting to your scheme where solicitors can subscribe and have messages about them deleted and future messages intercepted for a one-off fee for life. What is the fee?”

Mr Rick Kordowski: “£299. But noone pays it”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “So for £299 you would remove the posting and at that point, you don’t seem to be concerned about the public any more. Mr Line has paid you as well, hasn’t he? How much was it?”

Mr Kordowski: “£50 and again that is an indication of someone telling the truth”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “What does he get for the £50?”

Mr Kordowski: “He gets his full review on the site”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “Is that agreement on paper? Where can I see it?”

Mr Kordowski: ” It is in the Terms And Conditions”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “Where do I find it in the Terms And Conditions that I have seen?”

Mr Kordowski: “These are different Terms And Conditions”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “Is it included in the bundle?”

Mr Kordowski: “Probably not”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “So he pays £50 and if the solicitor pays £299, it is no longer published and is removed?

Mr Kordowski: “That is the theory.”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “Why did you write in your letter to the Claimant when responding to the Letter Before Action that other firms and tracing agents had found no money and that you were impecunious. What is the point of that?”

Mr Kordowski: “It was a way of encouraging them to talk to Mr Line”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “When Mr Bressington replied on 8th September, he wrote that your requirement for money was akin to extortion. What is your answer to that?”

Mr Kordowski: “I really have no answer. I had this idea some time ago of targeting solicitors and it got me onto the front page of the Law Gazette and into many other publications”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “You seem to publish defamatory material and you don’t care about the public as you are willing to take it down if solicitors pay you £299. But none of them agree to do that and if they pursue you the response is that you have no assets any way”

Mr Kordowski: “Or they can talk to the person who complained about them and the they can make amends. The site is beginning to work”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “Why is your site needed? If a person has a complaint about a solicitor, there is a route laid down by statute “

Mr Kordowski: “But that route is not very successful”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “So if a complaint doesn’t succeed on its merits, it might succeed by extortion?”

Mr Kordowski: “It is only Mr Bressington who has used that word”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “That is not true. A number of solicitors have said it and used that term”

Mr Kordowski: “My website has been going for five years and only became controversial when I introduced this fee”

Mr Justice Tugendhat: “I am going to strike out your defence and I am not going to give you an opportunity to replead it. I think you have been given long enough and I will enter judgment today. I will give a reasoned judgment in due course”

Last week Mr Kordowski was interviewed in the “Guardian”.  We have previously posted about a number of other cases against Mr Kordowski -Farrall, Phillips and Mazzola. As the Meeja Law blog noted last week, since the start of 2010 there have been 15 cases against the name-and-shame site’s owner, Rick Kordowski, with four currently awaiting permission to appeal.

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31 03 2011
Midweek media law mop up: Mooting, souped up injunctions and CFA reform | media law & ethics

[...] Inforrm>> Awdry Bailey & Douglas v Kordowski – another “Solicitors from Hell” case [...]

22 10 2011
Midweek media law mop up: Mooting, souped up injunctions and CFA reform | Media law and ethics

[...] Inforrm>> Awdry Bailey & Douglas v Kordowski – another “Solicitors from Hell” case [...]

17 11 2011
News: Judge orders closure of “Solicitors from Hell” website « Inforrm's Blog

[...] We have had previous posts on the cases of Robins v Kordowski [2011] EWHC 981 (QB)) (see here), Awdry, Bailey and Douglas v Kordowksi, Farrall v Kordowksi [2010] EWHC 2436 (QB) (see here), Phillips v Kordowski and Mazzola v [...]

21 11 2011
Law and Media Round Up – 21 November 2011 « Inforrm's Blog

[...] We have had previous posts on the cases of Robins v Kordowski [2011] EWHC 981 (QB)) (seehere), Awdry, Bailey and Douglas v Kordowksi, Farrall v Kordowksi [2010] EWHC 2436 (QB) (see here), Phillips v Kordowski and Mazzola v [...]

3 04 2012
Alternative Libel Project Report: Costs, ADR and Leveson – Helen Anthony « Inforrm's Blog

[...] get to strike out or summary judgement (see reports on Lait v Evening Standard, Kordowski v Hudson, Robins v Kordowski) – and for some cases this incredibly conservative (Apsion v Butler).  That’s £10,000 per [...]

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