pile of paper

Back in July 2009 (when this blog was 3 posts old) I wrote about some inappropriate correspondence between solicitors. I have just come across Ezzo v Grille [2003] NSWSC 776, which, somewhat ironically, is a defamation case. The correspondence and Justice Simpson’s comments in the following extracts from the judgment speak for themselves:

[4] Service of the statement of claim sparked a round of correspondence between the solicitors for the parties, escalating in intensity, and, at times, astonishing in the absence of dispassion that may reasonably be expected of correspondence between legal practitioners. The tone of the correspondence will emerge from the extracts I set out below….. Both the language used and the assertions and contentions made are, at times, extravagant, highly coloured, emotional. The heat generated in the correspondence has not assisted in the resolution of the relatively narrow issue I have to determine.

It all started following publication of an article by a Sydney based psychologist and the initial letter of demand.

[10] On 27 September 2002 the plaintiff’s solicitors wrote to the defendant, describing the publication as containing: “numerous highly defamatory, false and pernicious imputations”;…..

[12] On 26 March 2003 the plaintiff’s solicitors wrote again to the defendant’s then solicitors. They claimed that the defendant had: “very severely aggravated and exacerbated the serious damage caused by the publication of the wrongful and malicious article … by the publication of a further scurrilous and highly defamatory letter, which oozes with malice …”

The defendant’s solicitors then wrote pointing out that although they disputed that the imputations arose, an apology had already been published. They also advised that their client was prepared to publish a further apology and pay costs.

[20] To this the plaintiff’s solicitors replied by characterising many of the statements made in the letter as “patently incorrect” and the letter as “misleading”. They denied knowledge of any general apology ……[why they didn’t accept the offer and chose to shoot at the “white flag” is a mystery!]…..

[22] On 10 July 2003 the plaintiff’s solicitors….repeated the assertion that the 1 July letter of the defendant’s former solicitors constituted grounds for an award of aggravated damages. They described the content of the publication as “despicable”; they asserted that the defendant: “appears to have no defence whatsoever to our client’s claim”, described the opinion expressed in the 4 July letter (that the imputations pleaded do not arise) as “bizarre”. They moved to the statement that the defendant had relied upon the publisher to undertake normal legal checking of the article and characterised this as: “… as perverse as it is cowardly …”. It goes on, and you can read it in its full glory for yourself.

Creative commons acknowledgment for the photograph.

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