Disgruntled clients and the web

This year, I acted for a man who was so pissed off with a used car salesman, that he set up a webpage to recount his experiences. Say for the exercise the business was called Jack Maggs and Daughters Used Cars, and that its website was www.jackmaggs.com.au. My client purchased www.jackmaggs.com and went to town, in an indignant but truthful kind of a way. A suit for defamation followed. I pleaded the defence of truth, and particularised all the wrongdoing in detail. There it sat, on the public record, available to be inspected by the public. A confidential settlement was arrived at. The website is no longer there, but my client had by then made his point. Legal Blog Watch’s post ‘Who Needs a Lawsuit for Excess Fees When You’ve Got the Internet?‘ has alerted me to this website, which must strike terror into the hearts of many a law firm. It is apparent from the site that the firm has responded in the media, and the disgruntled client has responded with vigour on the blog, and on and on it goes.

The blogosphere is part of this whole trend. Consider the opprobrium which Reed Smith, a big international firm, has earned itself — rightly or wrongly — when it allegedly estimated its fees at US$50,000 in ‘a routine employment discrimination case’ and then charged its not-for-profit client 20 times that amount. See for example this post and this one, from Law.com and Legal Blog Watch respectively.

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