Defamation

Solicitor Wins Claim for being Defamed on a Review Website


 

A solicitor has won his claim for being defamed on a review website after alleging the website had published wrongful material that damaged his business.

Damien Tansey from Sligo made the claim for being defamed on a review website after defamatory comments about his solicitor´s practise appeared on the www.rate-your-solicitor.com website. Mr Tansey alleged that the operators of the website – John Gill from Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare; and Ann Vogelaar from Westport in County Mayo – allowed defamatory comments to be made by individuals who had never used his legal services.

As part of his claim for being defamed on a review website, Mr Tansey requested that the defamatory material was removed and that he was provided with the names and addresses of the individuals who had posted negative comments. Both Gill and Vogelaar contested the claim for being defamed on a review website, and the US-based Internet service provider Dotster Inc – against whom the claim was also made – did not enter a defence.

The claim for being defamed on a review website went to the High Court, where it was heard by Mr Justice Michael Peart. Judge Peart was told that defamatory material had been posted on the website since 2007 that had damaged Mr Tansey´s character, reputation and business – resulting in him suffering embarrassment, loss and damage.

After reviewing a selection of the material published on the website, Judge Peart said that he was entirely satisfied that the material “was seriously defamatory of Mr Tansey”. The judge said he had no hesitation in granting injunctions against Gill and Vogelaar and he ordered them to end the operation of the website pending a full hearing of the claim for being defamed on a review website.

Judge Peart added that any defence put forward against the claim for being defamed on a review website had little reasonable prospect of succeeding, and he called for a change to the law to prevent “unscrupulous persons or ill-motivated malcontents to vent their anger and grievances against people, where their allegations are patently untrue and unreasonable”.