Archive for October 6th, 2010

Maybe it is a sign of the times we live in – but this morning I start by referring to new *initiatives* in law and justice which may not work – or are just plainly bizarre –  and the dread *law of unintended consequences* will come into play.

First…… the problem of the Solicitors from Hell website which appears to be taxing the patience not only of members of the profession featured in it, but the judiciary as well.

Judge blocks website’s ‘Solicitors From Hell’ comments about lawyer

The Independent reports: “A second High Court judge has issued an interim injunction banning the owner of the website Solicitors From Hell from publishing or republishing defamatory material about a lawyer with a London firm. It is the second time in less than a month that a court has issued an interim order against website owner Rick Kordowski. Mr Justice Edwards-Stewart granted a similar order against Mr Kordowski on September 23. The latest order was granted by Mr Justice Tugendhat, who today handed down a written judgment explaining his reasons for issuing the order on Friday.”

Briefly – Mr Kordowski built a website to allow members of the public to place real or imagined complaints about solicitors online.  I say ‘real or imagined’ because it would appear that Mr Kordowski does not check the truth or substance behind the complaints (or, indeed, if there is any truth in the complaints).  What Mr Kordowski does offer – for a free of £299 – is to remove the complaint (whether it is true or not?).

It would seem that the judges can only deal with this phenomenon on a case by case basis – unless I have missed a point, which is possible – and in Ms Farrall’s case Mr Justice Tugendhat has granted an injunction – which is rare in interim applications in defamation cases.

It could take a while before all the complaints are injuncted if this is the only way of dealing with Mr Kordowski.

Next we have the arrival of The Legal Ombudsman. Perhaps the profession has only itself to blame for this wondrous creation.  Neil Rose of Legalfutures is now a Guardian blogger in addition to his work for his Legalfutures operation.

Ombudsman service puts lawyers on the receiving end of justice

The Guardian: The new sheriff in town aims to deliver swift but fair decisions through a simplified complaints process

‘Sheriff in town’ is a good metaphor here – because it would seem that a hint of the wild west and rough justice is the the central theme in this quango which did survive the bonfire of the quangos.  Neil Rose writes: ” The idea that lawyers will be on the receiving end of “rough and ready justice” is an unusual one for the profession, but that is exactly what the new Legal Ombudsman (LeO) service promises.

Although some within the new legal complaints-handling scheme balk at this description, the LeO board chairwoman, Elizabeth France, says she is proud of it. She of course does not mean that lawyers will suffer injustice at the hands of LeO, but rather that it will not be the kind of quasi-judicial process that has been used hitherto and that only lawyers could construct….

LeO board chairwoman, Elizabeth France says….”We’re going to be inquisitorial,” she says. “The ombudsman’s team will look at the evidence they’re presented with, ask any questions they need to ask and level up the playing field to the extent of helping to articulate a complaint, but they will be doing it in a way which is not bearing, I hope, any resemblance to the legal process.”

This may well prove to be a useful field for lawyers who want to bone up on judicial review.  As always with new ‘ideas’ it is best to see what happens but I have a feeling that while the public may enjoy and develop a taste for a ‘naming and shaming lynching’,  lawyers are going to be less compliant.  On the other hand, they could always sort the complaint out within eight weeks – assuming, of course, that the consumer doesn’t want his pound of flesh and day out in this new ‘Wild West’ themepark. It may work…. but it probably won’t. Let’s see… but I do love Ms France’s point about the service bearing no resemblance to the legal process.

And finally….a matter I addressed in a facile and parodic way last night – putting prisoners to work.

Ministry of Justice Breaking News: Ken Clarke to star in new production of Jailhouse Breaksrocks #cpc10

This stunt could be full of problems and, again, provide good work for lawyers.  I seem to remember a former Lord Chancellor, Jack Straw, saying that it was not part of the function of the Ministry of Justice and ‘the Law’ to provide work for lawyers.  Well…maybe Ken Clarke and the present government with this and allowing The Legal Ombudsman to survive the bonfire has a different take on this?

And.. for a wry smile… Bitcher & Prickman by US lawyer and artist Charles Pugsley Fincher is always worth a trip…

Law School News…

From BPP Law School: Two budding lawyers have each won the chance of a lifetime opportunity – a free place to study law, as part of a pioneering competition to promote social mobility and diversity within the legal sector.

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