In Which A London Solicitor Threatens Me

Law

Late last week I learned of the case of Lesley Kemp. Ms. Kemp transcribes recordings. Ms. Kemp accepted a job from Qatar-based Resolution Productions. Ms. Kemp claims that she experienced delays in payment for her services and that Resolution's Managing Director, Mr. Kirby Kearns, made excuses. She wrote posts on Twitter about this experience, and later reported on Twitter when she was paid. She was quite shocked — understandably — when Kirby Kearns, through his solicitor Barjinder Sahota of Sahota Solicitors, sued her for libel in England. England's Libel Reform Campaign is supporting her, a donation page has been set up to assist her with costs, and top-notch attorneys are defending pro bono.

This sort of thing is relevant to my interests, and I decided to write to Resolution Productions seeking comment.

Dear Resolution Productions,

I am an attorney in Los Angeles, California and a writer on legal issues including free speech, legal threats, and abuse of the legal system. In that capacity, at my blog www.popehat.com, I often write about lawsuits calculated to chill speech, about threats directed at internet speech, and about the Streisand Effect and how it impacts legal threats.

I am investigating your lawsuit against Lesley Kemp, described here: http://www.libelreform.org/news/540-transcriber-libel-case, in preparation for writing about it and encouraging others to write about it and donate to Ms. Kemp's defense.

Would anyone with your business be willing to comment on the case, its merits, or Resolution Production's position for this story?

Thanks very much,

Ken White
www.popehat.com

Early this morning I received the following response. All emphasis is in the original.

Dear Mr White,

PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION:

ACTIVE CASE: HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE (UK), QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION.
Claim number HQ12D05081 Mr Kirby Kearns and Mrs Lesley Kemp

I act for Mr Kirby Kearns, the Claimant in the above libel action and am responding to the email you sent to a company of which he is a Director – the company is not a party to the action.

As you will no doubt appreciate this case is the subject of ongoing and active litigation which will be determined judicially in a fair and proper manner in a court of law in England. We refuse to take part in any 'kangaroo court style media circus' that has being created by various groups.

You are expressly refused consent to publish any material that defames our client's good name. Our client reserves all his legal rights and remedies including commencing legal proceedings against yourselves as and when appropriate, should you take part in, or otherwise encourage, the continuing online vilification of our client. You are asked to resist and desist.

As an Attorney yourself you will know the implications of the above.

Once a proper court has adjudicated and reached a reasoned judgement based on the facts and the law, then, we will be more than happy to discuss the case with you – but until then our client declines all consents and issues due warning to you, via us, to resist and desist publication of any material, or the repetition of the same, that defames our client directly or by inference.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Sahota
Solicitor-Advocate (Higher Courts, Civil)

SAHOTA SOLICITORS
[address omitted by Ken]
London WC2R 1AT
[phone numbers omitted by Ken]
www.libel-law.co.uk

Mr Sahota is a member of the Law Society of England and Wales (No.146085) and our practice is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority ('Sahota Solicitors' No. 74569) – we strive to be effective and professional, if you have any comments or questions please contact Mr Sahota in the first instance.

Unless otherwise requested please respond by email.
THIS EMAIL IS CONFIDENTIAL, IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED IT IN ERROR PLEASE NOTIFY US AND DELETE FROM YOUR SYSTEM. THANKYOU.

I decided to respond.

Dear Mr. Sahota,

What a pleasure to be threatened by you, and to meet you, in that order.

Mr. Sahota, I help clients respond to legal threats for a living, and write about defamation threats as a hobby. I am therefore quite familiar with them, almost to the point of tedium. Your pompous yet feckless bluster distinguishes you. Well done!

It is my experience, Mr. Sahota, that the more extravagant the threats, the less merit cringes behind them, and the more mewling and milky the moral character that spurs their utterance. Your tirade arouses my suspicions further and redoubles my determination to investigate and write about your client's case against Ms. Kemp. Even the modest exercise of diligence, good judgment, or professional competence on your part would have suggested this would be the result of your threats. I wonder whether, before you sent your letter, you advised your client of its natural and probable effect.

As a preliminary matter I reject your pretenses to the confidentiality of your communication. You have threatened me with suit if I write about a legal proceeding of public interest. You have no basis to demand that I keep such a threat confidential, and I will not do so. Rather, I will publish it, and this response, to help readers assess your client's case.

Moreover, I reject your threat. I write about defamation cases, legal threats, and abuses of legal process, and I will continue to do so, whether you threaten me or not. You reside in a great nation with a contemptible libel law — one that has made you notorious haven for libel tourists, a breed of privileged thugs who believe their money should protect them from criticism. Reform movements give me hope that situation will change. But for now, Mr. Sahota, I do not live in a haunt for libel tourists. Rather, I live in a country that has taken specific steps to thwart them. As I have written before (http://www.popehat.com/2010/08/27/speech-act-a-bulwark-against-buffoonish-brits/), the SPEECH Act is a shield that prevents enforcement of your unprincipled libel judgments here in America. If you seek to silence me through abusive suit in England, no judgment you secure will be enforceable here. If you seek to harass me in the United States, our vigorous protections for free speech will thwart you. One of my favorite hobbies is seeking pro bono assistance for frivolously threatened bloggers here (http://www.popehat.com/tag/popehat-signal/). I suspect that, should you attempt to silence me through abuse of the United States legal system, I will not have the least difficulty in securing effective representation in any jurisdiction you might select. I have, myself, had some success with anti-SLAPP motions; you might want to research them.

You believe that you and your client are entitled to select the sole venue in which Mr. Kirby Kearns' claims are evaluated. You, Mr. Sahota, are mistaken. Of course you deride public examination of your suit as a "kangaroo court style media circus." You have chosen a venue that favors the strong against the weak, the bully against the victim, the rich against the poor, and you seek to maintain that sole advantage. You will not do so, sir. I commit to researching your client's case, and the circumstances that led to it, and publishing every true fact and relevant document about it. What you call a "kangaroo court" others regard as the right of free people to educate themselves, evaluate behavior, and speak their minds. Your client is not entitled to have his reputation protected from the consequences of his own behavior.

I strive to discover true facts and to write only accurate statements about the case. I will always be willing to hear and evaluate claims and evidence suggesting what those true facts are. If you ever believe that I have reported anything incorrectly, I request that you let me know immediately, so that I can assess your claim and if appropriate make a correction.

But you do not intimidate me, sir. In threatening me you have made an error in judgment.

Very truly yours,

Ken White
www.popehat.com

I will let you know if I receive a response. I will also research the case and write about it. In the meantime, follow the links at the start of the post to educate yourself about the case, and consider a modest donation to defray Ms. Kemp's court costs.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

127 Comments

125 Comments

  1. James Duncan  •  Apr 15, 2013 @7:51 am

    As a recent UK law graduate, I'd have to say that your characterisation of our libel law is…largely correct. Absent direct statements that one side is correct, it's hard to see any cause for action under English libel law either, especially since one can comment on allegations made litigation without making the same allegations directly.

    I am slightly embarrassed for Mr Sahota, since your characterisation of the letter largely accords with my own opinion of it even under English law.

  2. Norm DeGuerre  •  Apr 15, 2013 @7:53 am

    This is surreal.

  3. Conrad Longmore  •  Apr 15, 2013 @7:54 am

    I've had some positive dealings with Mr Sahota, I guess he's only doing what his client is asking him to do.

  4. Trevor  •  Apr 15, 2013 @7:55 am

    I think my favourite thing about your posts is the way you remain perfectly polite, while still defending (or attacking, or mocking) in full force.

  5. machintelligence  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:01 am

    I guess

    As an Attorney yourself you will know the implications of the above.

    should be added to "conduct yourself accordingly" and "welcome to the big leagues."

  6. Alan D.  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:03 am

    In re: Mr. Sahoa's final paragraph.

    Do they spell "judgement" with the 'e' across the pond?

  7. James Duncan  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:07 am

    The legal firm concerned aren't actually idiots in the Prenda style (although they also aren't Carter-Ruck). My issue is that they are largely blustering here in full can't-pound-the-law-but-can-pound-the-table style that isn't particularly becoming of them.

  8. James Duncan  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:08 am

    Alan D: We do.

  9. Alan D.  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:11 am

    @James Duncan: Thanks.

  10. Lesley Kemp  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:13 am

    Ken – thank you so much for highlighting my plight. For the past 6 months I have felt bullied, harassed and intimidated and I cannot even begin to describe the stress I have suffered but worse what my kind, supportive, loyal husband has had to bear. Thanks to the generosity of spirit and donations from good folk for which I shall forever be grateful, I have a chance to stand up with good conscience and say NO, I will NOT be bullied.

  11. Steve  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:18 am

    I feel we are scant steps away from the following threat

    Bad Guy: "Pontiffcap, Imma sue you for hurting my feelings by writing me a letter."

  12. Ken  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:19 am

    If nobody appreciates my Community reference, I shall pout.

  13. rabbitscribe  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:20 am

    "As an Attorney yourself you will know the implications of the above."

    (insert bemused Willie Wonka image)

    You must be new here.

  14. Luke  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:23 am

    "You are asked to resist and desist." Is this the British version of "Cease and desist?" It just sounds contradictory.

  15. Jarenth  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:27 am

    Open question: in their threat-letter to you, I spot the phrase 'you are asked to resist and desist'. And… I guess I can't figure out what that's supposed to mean? Isn't resisting the opposite of desisting? I'm trying to Google it as we speak, but all I can seem to find are references to cease and desist, which makes much more sense to me.

    Also, let me just say: I love that you write letters like this. I couldn't make it past "Your pompous yet feckless bluster distinguishes you" without cracking a smile.

  16. Liokae  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:27 am

    After reading your response to them, I have only one statement to make.

    DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNNNNG!

  17. Andrew S.  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:29 am

    Your response made me laugh out loud, Ken. In a doctor's office waiting room where the average age (other than me) is approximately 85. Got a lot of weird looks. Thank you.

  18. Raul  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:31 am

    That's one way to start the work week. Wow! Nice job.

  19. zaq.hack  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:32 am

    Pshaw. I shall throw a rock and knock the hornets from their high perch in yonder tree. That will show them I mean business …

  20. Walter  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:35 am

    A classic Ken post! *notches table*

  21. NM  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:39 am

    I'll sue you in England!

  22. perlhaqr  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:41 am

    *stands, clapping*

    Bravo, sir. Bravo.

  23. Frank Rizzo  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:42 am

    The libel survivor – what it's like to be faced with a gruelling libel claim

    Don’t bring God to court

    In paragraph 30 of the judgment in my case, Mr Justice Eady quotes the decision in Blake v Associated Newspapers: “It is well established… that the court will not venture into doctrinal disputes or differences. But there is authority that the courts will not regulate issues as to the procedures adopted by religious bodies or the customs and practices of a particular religious community or questions as to the moral and religious fitness of a person to carry out the spiritual and pastoral duties of his office.”

    Mr Justice Eady struck out His Holiness’ claim after accepting submissions that the courts could not deal with matters of doctrinal differences. In legal speak the matter was ‘non-justiciable’. The strategist behind the technical knockout was my lawyer at the time, Barjinder Sahota, from Sahota Solicitors. The case later became a legal authority in another related libel case, Shergill v Purewal.

  24. John Ammon  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:43 am

    If lawyers could be superheros (and I'm not entirely sure they can't), Ken would be the Superman of said lawyer heroes.

  25. Dan  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:46 am

    "PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL… NOT FOR PUBLICATION" As soon as someone types that in a C&D-type letter and sends it off, you have to think it's getting published.

    This guys has a protected Twitter account, so we can't read his only tweet. Darn shame.

  26. sorrykb  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:50 am

    People really should do a tiny bit of googling before sending you letters.

  27. Ian  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:58 am

    Great post Ken. I liked this so much that I just emailed Mr Sahota to tell him I would be paying a great deal of attention to this case as it unfolds in my capacity as a journalist for various national publications!

  28. Rik  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:02 am

    Ken, I see your value now ;)

  29. Aaron  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:02 am

    In the future when we gather in Popehat groups to drink Popehat beers and converse about Popehat topics, our t-shirts will read: "But you do not intimidate me, sir. In threatening me you have made an error in judgment."

    (Either that or — you know — the taint thing.)

  30. Kathryn  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:04 am

    @sorrykb: I disagree. People should not send thuggish, threatening letters to *anyone*. Limiting this behavior to only people not known to beat it into the ground isn't the solution.

    Sending them to Ken at least means the letters are put to a good use and given the welcome they deserve.

  31. Adam V  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:04 am

    Ken – re-read the whole thing three times looking for a Community reference! What am I missing?

  32. Will Nobilis  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:05 am

    Ken, as I stated in Twitter…
    Dammit Ken! I am popcorn'ed out from the Prenda mess. Now you go and apply epic smackdown yourself! Need to find a new snackfood.

    John Ammon: I must respectfully disagree. I think Ken outdoes Superman. He would have to be some amalgam of Superman, Goku, Spider-Man, Solar – Man of the Atom, and The Savage Dragon.

  33. He really said that...?!?  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:06 am

    "Your client is not entitled to have his reputation protected from the consequences of his own behavior."

    That's my favorite sentence in that post. That quote should be printed, framed, and conspicuously placed in every courthouse in the country.

  34. cb  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:07 am

    Googling Ken would be better for people like Mr Sahota.

    But it would mean less entertainment for us.

  35. Ken  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:07 am

    @AdamV: Rik and Walter got it.

  36. David  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:09 am

    We kicked y'all's ass aroun' about 1814 for less 'n this, and not for the first time.

    Don't be tryin' us or y'all gonna feel a world o' hurt.

  37. JT  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:12 am

    Oh no, really? I thought this production company was the world's best in the world. They have glittering gold world medals that they earned at glittering awards ceremonies of awarding glittering gold awards of world-caliber glitteryness. It says so on their home page.

  38. Noah Callaway  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:16 am

    Note to self: Opposing Ken would be scary. Avoid it whenever possible.

  39. Undertheradar76  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:16 am

    I just might have to start printing t-shirts of infamous Popehat witticisms. I'll donate half the proceeds to the relief fund.

  40. Blah  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:21 am

    @John Ammon – Matt Murdock is Daredevil by night and a mild-mannered blind lawyer by day. I think Ken here would be more of an X-Man or something though, Daredevil isn't particularly good with the snappy witticisms and verbal barbs.

    I cracked up immediately upon seeing that big bold "NOT FOR PUBLICATION" right at the top of the letter. That's comedy gold right there.

  41. orvis barfley  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:30 am

    a good many years ago i endeavored to learn some programming and was thoroughly stymied getting the neck of assembly language until i encountered a splendid work by one peter norton.  norton didn't say anything i hadn't already read; he just said it better.  his genius was he made the complex simple and reasonable.  i am reminded of that when i read one of ken's carefully crafted stilettos.

    had i a hat it would be off.

  42. orvis barfley  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:37 am

    this entire sorry episode resonates in me in particular because i am fairly closely following the richard iii saga in merry old.  one of the reforms that i think got richard in dutch with the landed gentry over there involved his making the press more free to speak its collective mind.  that sort of thing didn't wash in england in those days and i gather it still isn't well thought of.  richard's killer and successor slew more than 70k britons, i understand, getting richard's various genies back into their bottles.  he employed anyone willing to shred richard's name (most notably w shakespeare and t more), and modern brits to this day tend to believe that crap.

    very interesting.

  43. MattS  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:37 am

    Ken White legal warrior
    Primary weapon: ClueX4

    VS

    Mr Sahota cencorious asshat
    Primary weapon: Merit-less Legal threats

    Flawless Victory to Ken White.

  44. beingmarkh  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:40 am

    Incidentally, there appears to be a defamation law working its way through Parliament at the moment at http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2012-13/defamation.html . The House of Commons is considering amendments tomorrow. I found the info through one of the Lesley Kemp support sites.

  45. Dave Crisp  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:49 am

    @beingmarkh:

    While the Defamation Bill, assuming it passes, would be a vast improvement over the current law, it is still lacking in a lot of ways.

    The biggest one of these is that the burden is still on the defendant to prove that the allegedly defamatory statement is true, rather than on the plantiff to prove that it is false.

  46. Klaus  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:56 am

    Ken,

    Chapeau !

    found Popehat through the prendites saga and well .. you da man … what else can one say … thanks much for stepping up ..

    Regards
    Klaus

  47. Damon  •  Apr 15, 2013 @10:02 am

    Am I the only one thinking Ken should have said "Come at me Bro"?

    :)

  48. Dan Irving  •  Apr 15, 2013 @10:27 am

    /slow clap

  49. PhilG  •  Apr 15, 2013 @10:31 am

    he more mewling and milky the moral character

    Were you looking at cat pictures on the internet when you wrote that part?

  50. Dave Cannon  •  Apr 15, 2013 @10:36 am

    @ David.

    "We kicked y'all's ass aroun' about 1814 for less 'n this, and not for the first time."

    Um, no.

    The War of 1812 was among other things, an attempt by the U.S. to 'liberate' parts of Canada. We're still here, so no, the ass-kicking wasn't as one-sided, nor was it ultimately as successful, as you have apparently been taught.

  51. Ken Mencher  •  Apr 15, 2013 @10:43 am

    So…when are you going to start selling t-shirts with your best quotes?

    Kidding aside, I've followed a few libel cases from the UK where the defendant was in the US, and it's pretty striking the difference between libel laws in the two countries…It really does speak to the differences between the Queen's English and "American"….and not in a flattering light.

    Looking forward to the next note from the solicitor!

  52. Bear  •  Apr 15, 2013 @10:53 am

    It seems to me that a letter like so would be much easier to draft, and more effective:

    Dear Mr Popehat,

    Thank you for your interest in this case.

    We do not think that it is appropriate for us to discuss our position in the media at this time due to active litigation. We hope that you will understand, and avoid potentially biased reporting until such time as litigation permits us to grant interviews.

    Sincerely,

    A. Chaser, Esq.

    But I suppose that isn't nearly as much fun, or lucrative for shysters.

  53. Loverat  •  Apr 15, 2013 @11:05 am

    Hilarious stuff. Looks like someone is losing the plot.

    Another avenue worth pursuing is the Solicitors Regulation Authority(SRA) The fact his client may have asked him to bring these proceedings is neither here nor there. The claimant's solicitors have to behave themselves when conducting the pre court stuff. Might be worth sending them that letter to give them a flavour of their tactics. I hear the regulator is going after one or two aggressive libel lawyers who seemingly break the rules.

  54. David  •  Apr 15, 2013 @11:13 am

    @ David.

    …Um, no.

    The War of 1812 was among other things, an attempt by the U.S. to 'liberate' parts of Canada. We're still here, so no, the ass-kicking wasn't as one-sided, nor was it ultimately as successful, as you have apparently been taught.

    If only I knew a bit more about history, I might then rise to the level of precision and extension required in your consumption of parody.

  55. Andrew Robinson  •  Apr 15, 2013 @11:14 am

    While "Come at me Bro" has it's merits as a response, the phrase is not common legal parlance in the United Kingdom. In this jurisdiction, one is more usually tempted to cite the response given to the plaintiff in Arkell v. Pressdram.

  56. Stephen Hutcheson  •  Apr 15, 2013 @11:15 am

    >The War of 1812 was among other things, an attempt by the U.S. to 'liberate' parts of Canada. We're still here, so no, the ass-kicking wasn't as one-sided, nor was it ultimately as successful, as you have apparently been taught.

    Yes, well, the treaties more or less said "we'll call it a draw"–but the U.S. did win a mighty victory (after time was called).

    –although a more nuanced approach might say that the real issue wasn't so much Canada (they've never caused that much harm up there anyway, eh) but the conflict between British notions of "subjectitude" (obtained at birth and not alienable, like a milder case of the slavery which was itself still legal although losing popular support rapidly) and U.S. notions of "citizenship" (which was something you could get or forego by choice–unless of course you were of the wrong race and not IN the country by choice).

    So the U.S. did manage to protect its citizens (who were not slaves) from foreign impressment (which was sort of like British subjectitude except more onerous). Which counts as a win, worth a house burning or two to accomplish.

  57. dw  •  Apr 15, 2013 @11:27 am

    The wonderful thing about the War of 1812 is that every side thinks that it won.

    The US remembers the victory at the Battle of New Orleans
    The Canadians remember the successful repulsion of the attempted US invasion.
    The Brits, to the extent that they are aware of the war (which is very little), remember the burning of the White House.

    The only real losers were the Native Americans.

  58. Louis Nettles (@tmitsss)  •  Apr 15, 2013 @11:30 am

    to correct the record the date of the asskicking was January 8, 1815 after the war was technically over. It was an asskicking, but just one battle but the beginning of a streak

  59. David  •  Apr 15, 2013 @11:36 am

    "On our way down here, Senator Frist was kind enough to show me the fireplace where, in 1814, the British had burnt the Congress Library. I know this is… kind of… late, but… sorry." ~ PM Tony Blair, 2003-07-17

  60. Bear  •  Apr 15, 2013 @11:37 am

    In the War of 1812, the Brits did burn the White House to the ground. I call that a win for everyone.

    If only we could get them to invade us again.

  61. Kurt  •  Apr 15, 2013 @11:50 am

    Fabulous! Mr. Sahota's letter read like a fly landing on an elephant's butt with rape in mind.

  62. sorrykb  •  Apr 15, 2013 @12:05 pm

    not included but implicit in Ken's response:
    Good day, Sir! I said, "GOOD DAY!"

  63. slambie  •  Apr 15, 2013 @12:05 pm

    Awesome response letter. Very truly yours is clearly code for "Snort my taint."

  64. MattS  •  Apr 15, 2013 @12:14 pm

    Bear,

    Maybe this time we can get them to burn the whole district to the ground.

  65. Dan Weber  •  Apr 15, 2013 @12:15 pm

    "You are expressly refused consent to publish any material that defames our client's good name."

    A giant smile spread over my face when I read that line.

  66. SassQueen  •  Apr 15, 2013 @12:15 pm

    Ken, I think Kurt just fat-joked you up there.

  67. Sherry  •  Apr 15, 2013 @12:20 pm

    Gosh & golly gee whiz ….. such an important, lauded & highly successful organization as R.P. to be so concerned with besmirching a contracting employee …. Makes me think they must have a lot of extra time. SOMEone is devoting a lot of effort to smearing and attempting to force a self-employed, hard working, honest woman and her family into bankruptcy & render them homeless, which, make no mistake, is what it would do if Mr. K wins his suit.
    https://www.facebook.com/ResolutionQatar
    Their Facebook page seems to be filled with self-congratulatory, self-important drivel.
    It is a disgrace this sort of lawsuit is even given consideration in any court.

  68. James Pollock  •  Apr 15, 2013 @12:26 pm

    "The War of 1812 was among other things, an attempt by the U.S. to 'liberate' parts of Canada. We're still here, so no, the ass-kicking wasn't as one-sided, nor was it ultimately as successful, as you have apparently been taught."

    The ground I was born on was under British control in 1812, but my passport reads "United States", not "Canada", eh?

    Fifty-Four Forty Or Fight!

  69. Phe0n1x  •  Apr 15, 2013 @12:54 pm

    Don't mind me, just making some popcorn in an industrial sized popper.

  70. Alicia  •  Apr 15, 2013 @12:57 pm

    I may have just fallen in love with you. Your response is perfect. Thank you for making me smile on an otherwise gloomy day!

  71. DP  •  Apr 15, 2013 @1:19 pm

    I think some links to their webpage would have made the response even better. Such as this one regarding "Defences to libel" http://libel-law.co.uk/accused.php

  72. Joe Pullen  •  Apr 15, 2013 @1:45 pm

    Mr. Sahota clearly did not do his homework before sending out his little note. For his sake I hope he doesn't respond. For my amusement I hope he does.

  73. Loverat  •  Apr 15, 2013 @1:45 pm

    Perhaps Mr Sahota forgot to read that page before he completed the claim form. I wonder if he now realises that he has made a complete pig's ear of this claim. That must be too embarassing for a libel specialist to admit so I guess we will see more huffing and puffing.

    Perhaps better to admit he has stuffed up now than be told by the judge. Still-good entertainment perhaps when the time comes. Not seen a solicitor being given a dressing down in court for a couple of years now.

  74. whheydt  •  Apr 15, 2013 @2:04 pm

    Re; War of 1812

    One should also remember a little incident between the USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere. Capt. Dacres might have some reservations about British success (though he did get acquited at his court martial claiming that the ships masts were in bad shape…after bragging about what great shape they were in prior to the battle).

  75. Ken  •  Apr 15, 2013 @2:08 pm

    Diverting a free speech and legal-threat post into a quarrel about the War of 1812 is very Popehat, though not so Popehat as it would have been if the quarrel involved the use of ponies or the best TeamFortress War of 1812 Mod.

  76. perlhaqr  •  Apr 15, 2013 @2:23 pm

    Bear: It's a nice thought, but dear God, can you imagine what they'd pay these days to rebuild the damned thing?

  77. Dave Crisp  •  Apr 15, 2013 @2:31 pm

    Sorry, if it's Wo1812 naval battles we're talking about, I've got to go with Chesapeake vs. Shannon, minute-for-minute the bloodiest single-ship encounter of the Age of Sail.

  78. Bear  •  Apr 15, 2013 @2:43 pm

    @perlhaqr: Rebuild? Oh, no.

    DC is a swamp. I'll insist that they follow the usual-for-us-peons application/permits/lawsuit/bankruptcy procedure for construction on wetlands. In the meantime, malaria carried by the uncontrolled mosquitoes should wipe out most of the bureaucrats.

    Like I say, a win for everyone.

    (See, Ken? I mentioned lawsuits, something legal. That makes it blog related. Or, if not not… sue me? [grin])

  79. Jack B.  •  Apr 15, 2013 @2:43 pm

    I guess this is an appropriate time to post the Canadian response to Jimmie Driftwood's "Battle of New Orleans".

  80. sorrykb  •  Apr 15, 2013 @3:02 pm

    @Jack B: Needs more ponies.

  81. Wondering  •  Apr 15, 2013 @3:16 pm

    +1 for the Arrogant Worms. Also, Canada's really big.

  82. VPJ  •  Apr 15, 2013 @3:44 pm

    Alas, the video's mis-attributed. Worms didn't do that one (though I can understand why one might think it's their style).

    I believe the actual artist is Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie.

  83. Jack B.  •  Apr 15, 2013 @4:00 pm

    I believe the actual artist is Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie.

    You are indeed correct. (same clip, just properly attributed)

    As someone who borderline worships Jimmie Driftwood, I was more worried that people were going to try to correct me and say "Battle of New Orleans" is a Johnny Horton song.

  84. Expat  •  Apr 15, 2013 @4:12 pm

    A word about UK postcodes – they are much more specific than US zip codes (i.e., often down to a specific building, at least when you include the second segment). So not much point to redacting the address if you leave the full postcode.

  85. peej  •  Apr 15, 2013 @4:13 pm

    @Kurt: Thank you for that useful simile. Every time I think I've heard all the best ones…

  86. SPQR  •  Apr 15, 2013 @4:19 pm

    " … the more mewling and milky the moral character that spurs their utterance. "

    Consider that line stolen, Ken, and govern yourself accordingly.

  87. Matthew Cline  •  Apr 15, 2013 @4:29 pm

    "Your client is not entitled to have his reputation protected from the consequences of his own behavior."

    Wow, I missed that. The irony is great.

  88. different Jess  •  Apr 15, 2013 @4:49 pm

    Haha Canadians. Always think Canadia is the center of everything, even wars between real nations. Eh.

  89. Andy (not Andy)  •  Apr 15, 2013 @4:56 pm

    You do know that it only takes three letters to spell Canada, right?
    (while we're having fun with it, anyway :D )

  90. different Jess  •  Apr 15, 2013 @5:33 pm

    Presumably it's something about them already having all the required "eh"s?

  91. Shay  •  Apr 15, 2013 @5:40 pm

    Hailing as I do from a part of the US where one must drive south to get to Canada, I feel compelled to speak up.

    They speak our language, take our money and have nice beaches. Go, Canada.

  92. kallethen  •  Apr 15, 2013 @6:51 pm

    @Expat: USA does have extended zip codes as well. It's an optional thing though, you can mail with or without the +4 digits.

  93. Felix  •  Apr 15, 2013 @6:54 pm

    @Andy (not Andy): That's where the name comes from. It was originally Commonwealth Northern Dominions, quite a mouthful. A commission was established to come up with a better name. Someone suggested abbreviating it, and was asked what he meant. "C, eh? N, eh? D, eh?"

  94. Dan Hill  •  Apr 15, 2013 @7:30 pm

    I imagine these clowns arriving in court to deliver the following statement:

    "Begging your indulgence Your Honour, but we seem to be unable to find anyone to type our submission…"

  95. Analee  •  Apr 15, 2013 @7:43 pm

    Clearly Mr. Sahota heard that Ken is Libel and decided to proceed against him accordingly.

  96. John Nash III  •  Apr 15, 2013 @8:07 pm

    Murum aries attigit? I'm sorry you didn't tell him – in Latin, of course – what to do with his hat and (separately, I hope) your taint. Is that planned for the next round?

  97. Kurt  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:08 pm

    No no no, @Jack B. The "Battle of New Orleans" is a Tim Horton's song…
    /me ducks

  98. Merissa  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:41 pm

    Ooh, what's he going to do, put on a bright red coat and march at you in a straight line?

    -a Texan with Canadian propensities

  99. James Pollock  •  Apr 15, 2013 @9:47 pm

    Kurt, was that the Horton who heard a who, or the Horton who hatched an egg?

  100. Thad  •  Apr 16, 2013 @12:29 am

    I always thought that the war of 1812 involved the French and the Russians — but then, I'm British, and listened to more Tchaikovsky than history lessons!

    I expect there were plenty of ponies in the Russian war. Probably many of them came to a sad end.

  101. Zack  •  Apr 16, 2013 @5:46 am

    I love the fact that British libel law is coming into the spotlight. It looks to me like that's the major problem I'd have with living/working overseas, in any country but America: As troubled as we are by problems with protecting our free speech, most other first/second world countries have it worse. Most European countries either don't have an equivalent to the First Amendment, or their libel/defamation law is broad enough to weaken it severely. Middle eastern countries (for the most part) make defaming religions illegal, which conveniently weakens a person's ability to criticize the government there, whose laws have varying amounts of grounding in an Islamic history of the country.

    TLDR version: Thanks for standing up against an overblown windbag, who embodies a lot of the bad things people think of when they think about lawyers.

  102. Guns  •  Apr 16, 2013 @6:16 am

    The copious use of an extremely condecending "sir" means I can't but read your reply in Christopher Hitchens' voice.

    "No, sir."

  103. Ollie  •  Apr 16, 2013 @9:58 am

    Your reply literally brought a tear of joy to my eye to read. You are an artist.

  104. Steve Simmons  •  Apr 16, 2013 @10:41 am

    @Andrew Robinson – Many thanks for drawing our attention to Arkell v. Pressdram. It was a wonderful response.

  105. Josh M.  •  Apr 16, 2013 @11:09 am

    *sigh*

    Time to order another barrel of popcorn…

  106. nentuaby  •  Apr 16, 2013 @11:48 am

    We kicked y'all's ass aroun' about 1814 for less 'n this, and not for the first time.

    Don't be tryin' us or y'all gonna feel a world o' hurt.

    A-heh. While we achieved our political goals from that war, characterizing it as the US kicking British ass is juuuuust a wee bit (read: laughably) ahistorical.

  107. nentuaby  •  Apr 16, 2013 @11:50 am

    Although I think the above comment may have been failed parody, in which case: The difficult trick to satire is to make your statements distinguishable from serious ones made by your peers.

  108. Rusty  •  Apr 16, 2013 @12:05 pm

    That's the last time I drink anything while reading Popehat. (The monitor and the cat are doing fine but the keyboard didn't make it. Alas.)

    S. Pickens put it best,
    "Gal-darnit, Mr. [White], you use your tongue prettier than a twenty dollar whore."

  109. J G  •  Apr 16, 2013 @12:10 pm

    Arkell v. Pressdram is (in)famous on our side of the pond partly I think because Private Eye actually won that one. Though if you want to know about British Libel Law Ian Hislop, the editor, is probably your man. He still seams to revel in the title 'Most Sued Man in Britain' The Indipendent

  110. David  •  Apr 16, 2013 @1:02 pm

    I love it when you get your dander up. Which is most days, actually.

  111. JWH  •  Apr 16, 2013 @1:02 pm

    Here is a perfectly sufficient response:

    "Dear Mr. Ken at Popehat:

    Because of ongoing litigation,my client has chosen to decline comment on this matter.

    Sincerely,

    Lawyer"

  112. Frank Reid  •  Apr 16, 2013 @1:31 pm

    Yeah, that letter to Mr. Sahota is pretty damn awesome. I'm not a lawyer, but I can tell when someone's had his ass handed to him. Keep up the good work.

  113. Tzctpope  •  Apr 17, 2013 @1:44 am

    It is funny you didn't publish their address. As it would be expected such a firm is very easy to find.

    Funnily enough they offer their services to both victims and accusers in libel cases.

    In other words, libel is their livelihood, draw you own conclusions….

  114. Tim  •  Apr 17, 2013 @8:49 am

    "What a pleasure to be threatened by you, and to meet you, in that order."

    The subsequent consequence hinted at is frightening (we SHALL meet!), but the sheer subtlety is totally terrifying.

  115. CMS  •  Apr 17, 2013 @12:50 pm

    Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! and Thank you – for bringing UK libel law into the spotlight.

  116. Loverat  •  Apr 17, 2013 @10:01 pm

    Just having a think about this article and the correspondence above.

    It would be really good if there were people in the UK who would be prepared to take a stand against this kind of behaviour. There are very few people I have come across who would write such a response. The response of course is correct and entirely reasonable. Yet, the chill of libel even makes libel reform campaigners and intelligent writers hesitate about what they write out of fear of upsetting the bullies.

    I think it is time now for the Libel Reform Campaign and others to become a bit more combative. Contrary to some opinion the current laws do offer protection – if you are prepared to go all the way and stand up for free speech.

    The above case, if publicised more, may well act as the catalyst needed to demonstrate how ludicrous things have got. It is all well changing the law but libel abuse also needs to be tackled at the roots and people educated properly about the law. A combination of a lack of education about libel and ambulance chasing/compensation culture is why there are so many hopeless cases (like the one above) clogging up our courts.

  117. Lesley Kemp  •  Apr 18, 2013 @3:16 am

    Thank you Popehat people for the fantastic support, and your humourous and witty comments. ♥ The digression to the 1812 war, etc was thoroughly entertaining, not to mention educational. A report in my local newspaper is now up and the mighty Popehat credited! http://ow.ly/kb5PZ

  118. AJ  •  Apr 18, 2013 @6:45 am

    Bravo

  119. Bob  •  Apr 20, 2013 @8:36 pm

    The first response to something like that should always be the "Cleveland Browns" response, to wit:

    "Attached is a letter that we received on . I feel that you should be aware that some asshole is signing your name to stupid letters."

    If they followup and admit that they are in fact the author of the original letter, *then* you crit them with the awesome wall of text.

    :-)

  120. Richard Gadsden  •  Apr 21, 2013 @6:32 am

    Can I suggest, for future reference, that if you elect to redact a UK address, you should also redact the second half of the postcode. A full postcode identifies (approximately) the block that the delivery point is located in, which is, I suspect, rather more precise than you intended. A domestic address would normally share its postcode with about 20 other houses.

    On this occasion, it's business premises and the full address is on the website, rather than a home address, so not really a problem, but when you are redacting someone's private details, try to be a touch more careful in future.

  121. Loverat  •  Apr 21, 2013 @9:37 am

    Someone else also made the same point about postcodes. Seems rather pedantic to raise such a fairly trivial point again.

    Perhaps you should be giving Sahota Solictors some advice on their letter writing abilities. Looks like they need help big time.

  122. Chaz  •  Apr 21, 2013 @6:30 pm

    Loverat,

    Dude probably didn't read the other comments. Normally I hate it when people post without reading the preceding comments, but if you've got something that you consider important information the author or others should know, then I think it's okay to post it briefly without reading through the whole thread of high fives and war discussion. As long as you don't consider every word that leaves your mouth to be important information.

  123. John O.  •  Apr 22, 2013 @12:23 am

    "PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL."

    I expect him to throw a huge fit over the disregard of his "privilege" to declare something private and confidential.

  124. Conrad Longmore  •  Apr 22, 2013 @12:55 am

    @Loverat: "It would be really good if there were people in the UK who would be prepared to take a stand against this kind of behaviour."

    Ironically, Mr Sahota (the lawyer concerned) does seem to be a decent lawyer if you find yourself in a tight spot. Too bad that he appears to be on the wrong side in this particular fight.

  125. Loverat  •  Apr 22, 2013 @10:56 pm

    Conrad

    I must admit my first impressions were that this case must have been brought by a law firm which does not understand how libel law works in practice. Then I was reminded of cases such as Lonzim V Sprague, Dee V The Telegraph – both vexatious, without merit cases taken forward by other libel specialists. And then I did a little more research on Sahota and can now see they do know their onions.

    That then prompted me to ask myself whether their conduct since this started is within the rules set down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) about treating unrepresented defendants fairly. I have come across some terrible abuses by libel solicitors and the infamous file sharing cases a few years ago. It is not simply a case of being on the wrong side but whether this decision to represent their client has been accompanied by bullying, non compliance with protocols and demanding more money than would be recoverable in court – even if the case had some merit.

    Mr Sahota might be wise to look at the consequences for those lawyers who have overstepped the mark before. He should start by reading this basic guidance and then researching other cases.

    http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/advice/practice-notes/litigants-in-person/

    Para 3.1 most relevant.

    3.1 Taking 'unfair advantage'

    Taking 'unfair advantage' refers to behaviour that any reasonable solicitor would regard as wrong and improper. That might include:

    bullying and unjustifiable threats;
    misleading or deceitful behaviour;
    claiming what cannot be properly claimed;
    demanding what cannot properly be demanded.

    Such conduct is likely to be penalised if identified by a judge or upon complaint.

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