Monday 28 May 2018

Judge orders 'claims harvesting' site to close

Stock picture: Getty
Stock picture: Getty

Tim Healy

The President of the High Court has directed that a website involved in a practice known as "claims harvesting" be shut down.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly made orders over a website called www.personalinjurysolicitorsdublin.info.

The Judge said he was satisfied to make orders after finding that any person who read the contents of the website would believe that they were dealing with a service that could only be offered by solicitors.

The orders were made against businessman, David Smyth and a firm he is a director of called Agenda Computers, both with an address at Eldon, St Johns Hill, Waterford, who the Law Society of Ireland said had operated the website.

The society sought the orders against Mr Smyth, who is not a qualified solicitor, and the company on the grounds the website contained statements that are in breach of the advertising provisions of Solicitors Acts, in particular soliciting and encouraging the making of personal injury claims.

It claimed Mr Smyth appeared to providing legal advice and was pretending that he was a solicitor and that there was a firm called Personal Injury Solicitors Dublin, when he was not a solicitor and there was no such firm.

'Claims harvesting' is a practise where information on potential litigants in personal injuries claims is passed on to third-party legal firms by someone connected to the website operator.

These sites encourage and appear to solicit people making personal injuries claims.

The judge said while the website did include a disclaimer "in small print" which "appeared to be written by somebody whose first language was not English" any person who read the website would believe they "were getting in contact with a solicitor."

Irish Independent

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