Robins v Kordowski and Another: QBD 22 Jul 2011

The claimant solicitor said he had been defamed on the first defendant’s website (‘Solicitors from Hell’) by the second defendant. The first defendant now applied to set aside judgment entered by default. The claimant additionally sought summary disposal under section 8 of the 1996 Act. The second defendant had settled admitting his claims were unjustified.
Held: The defendant’s proposed defence was hopeless, and judgment was confirmed with damages at andpound;10,000. In the absence of an undertaking not to repeat the allegation, an injunction was also given. The jurisdiction to grant summary disposal is available after the court has entered default judgment for damages to be assessed.
Discussing a statement of the lawyer of the opponent in the original proceedings in which the claimant had acted, Tugendhat J said: ‘Statements made by lawyers on behalf of their clients, are (or at least ought to be) based on the instructions that the lawyers receive from their clients, and are not made from the lawyers’ own knowledge. That is well understood by litigants. It follows that if such a statement turns out to be false, that raises no inference that the lawyer has lied . . If a client acts inconsistently, or the facts are ultimately proved to be different from the facts as stated by the lawyer, no inference adverse to the lawyer can be drawn unless there is evidence from the client or the papers that the lawyer did not act on instructions, or gave advice to the client to act in the inconsistent manner described. Without such evidence, any adverse inference would be equally applicable to the client as to the solicitor, and it would be impossible to conclude that it was more likely to be a lie or breach of duty by the solicitor rather than incorrect instructions, or a change in instructions, or some other conduct of the client.
Of course, lawyers are capable of lying. But an allegation of lying or any dishonesty is very serious, whether it is made against a lawyer or anyone else. Lawyers are entitled to no greater protection from the law for their reputations than anyone else. But they are entitled to no less protection than anyone else.
The court requires an allegation of dishonesty against anyone to be set out with particularity and proved by evidence.’

Tugendhat J
[2011] EWHC 1912 (QB)
Defamation Act 1996 8 9 12
England and Wales
CitedMerivale v Carson CA 1887
A published criticism of a play made reference to one of the characters being ‘a naughty wife’, though in fact there was no adulterous wife in the play.
Held: The defence of fair comment is open to a commentator however prejudiced he might be, . .
CitedGardiner v Fairfax 1942
Complaint was made that the plaintiff had been libelled in the defendant’s book review.
Held: A publication is defamatory in nature if it ‘is likely to cause ordinary decent folk in the community, taken in general, to think the less of [the . .
CitedTurner v Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Ltd (MGM) HL 1950
A letter was published which criticised a film critic’s review of the week’s films.
Held: A person (including a corporation) whose character or conduct has been attacked is entitled to answer the attack, and the answer will be protected by . .
CitedLondon Artists Ltd v Littler CA 10-Dec-1968
The defence of fair comment on matters of public interest is not to be defined too closely. Lord Denning MR said: ‘Whenever a matter is such as to affect people at large, so that they may be legitimately interested in, or concerned at, what is going . .
CitedSpiller and Another v Joseph and Others SC 1-Dec-2010
The defendants had published remarks on its website about the reliability of the claimant. When sued in defamation, they pleaded fair comment, but that was rejected by the Court of Appeal.
Held: The defendants’ appeal succeeded, and the fair . .
CitedPamplin v Express Newspapers Ltd (2) CA 1988
In considering what evidence can be used in mitigation of damages in defamation, it is necessary to draw a distinction between evidence which is put forward to show that the plaintiff is a man of bad reputation and evidence which is already before . .
CitedSteel and Morris v United Kingdom ECHR 15-Feb-2005
The applicants had been sued in defamation by McDonalds. They had no resources, and English law precluded legal aid for such cases. The trial was the longest in English legal history. They complained that the non-availablility of legal aid infringed . .
CitedLoutchansky v The Times Newspapers Ltd and Others (Nos 2 to 5) CA 5-Dec-2001
Two actions for defamation were brought by the claimant against the defendant. The publication reported in detail allegations made against the claimant of criminal activities including money-laundering on a vast scale. They admitted the defamatory . .
CitedBurstein v Times Newspapers Ltd CA 20-Dec-2000
Where a defendant in a defamation action sought to reduce the damages payable by arguing that the claimant had a reduced or damaged reputation, he could include evidence about particular facts only where these were directly connected to the . .

Cited by:
See AlsoQRS v Beach and Another QBD 26-Sep-2014
The court gave its reasons for granting an interim injunction to prevent the defendants publshing materials on their web-sites which were said to harrass the claimants.
Held: Whilst it was important to protect the identity of the claimants, . .
CitedBrett Wilson Llp v Person(s) Unknown, Responsible for The Operation and Publication of The Website QBD 16-Sep-2015
The claimant solicitors sought remedies against the unknown publishers of the respondent website which was said to publish material defamatory of them, and to ampunt to harassment.
Held: The alleged defamatory meanings were not challenged by . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Defamation, Damages

Updated: 12 January 2022; Ref: scu.442096