A law firm which was targeted by a dissatisfied former client – who embarked on an Internet campaign of vilification which threatened to gravely damage its reputation – has been granted an anti-harassment injunction against him.
The man felt that the firm had let him down when advising him on a planning matter. He had registered a number of websites which incorporated the firm’s name and they had become the focus of numerous comments which cast wounding aspersions on its honesty and integrity and made accusations of corruption.
Highly unflattering caricatures of some of the firm’s partners also appeared online and it had real concerns that the Internet posts would put off prospective and existing clients and deter people from applying to work for the firm.
In granting an injunction – which, amongst other things, required the former client to remove the offending posts from the Web – the High Court accepted that individuals he had targeted had suffered real distress. His activities were offensive, unattractive and unreasonable and amounted to ‘torment’. The man’s human right to express himself freely did not afford an arguable defence to the harassment claim.