AdviceScene recently settled a case against Lawbuzz Canada Inc. over comments published on their legal forum last year. The apology is part of the settlement agreement. We sued Lawbuzz for publishing defamatory statements made by four of it’s anonymous members; and we also included those four members in the suit. We feel the posts by those members had the effect of discouraging lawyers from joining our site. Lawbuzz isn’t just any online forum. It’s specifically geared toward the legal community in Canada. Most likely nearly all the members on that site are either lawyers or law students. So, when members who appeared to be lawyers made statements that were clearly defamatory against this site, we had to take action. If any one group of people in this country should know that what one says online has the same (or even more) effect than the printed or spoken word, it is the lawyers. These are the very people that should know better. Lawyers have huge influence on public opinion and on the legal community. As such, they should be held up to at least the same standard of conduct as the rest of us. Lawyers should know better than to publish blatantly untrue and defamatory statements, even if they were made online anonymously.
AdviceScene.com is the first site of its kind in Canada; and last March we were struggling for acceptance in the legal community. The very last thing we needed at that time was for a popular legal site to publish untrue things about us. We have continued to struggle over the past year to get Canadian lawyers to answer questions online; and it’s our contention that the Lawbuzz statements certainly did not help us.
I am a huge supporter of free speech and I don’t like censorship at all, however when free speech reaches the point where people and businesses get hurt, there should be a way to put an end to it. People are free to be completely critical of me and this site; in fact I welcome criticism openly. However when those criticisms are based on untrue allegations specifically meant to hurt my business, that’s where I draw the line. Statements like the ones made last year on lawbuzz.ca, some of them from well-known lawyers, hurt our chances of making a go of a site that strives to bring greater legal understanding to the public; and can not be tolerated.
The documents that pertain to this case are listed below.
Documents pertaining to case in PDF format: