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Law firm successful in bringing years of online abuse to an end after six day trial

An expert litigator at national law firm Weightmans has resolved a lengthy legal battle for a leading utilities company, bringing to an end a four-year campaign of online abuse and interference with the business. 

Since 2014, two individuals orchestrated an online campaign designed to damage the business and reputation of leading commercial energy supplier BES Utilities, publishing articles including abusive and homophobic images with the intention of humiliating the directors, employees and legal representatives.

Damian Carter, Partner at Weightmans, took the case to the High Court last month and on the sixth day of trial secured a withdrawal of the posts, with a written undertaking that prevents any further abuse and interference with the business.

The abuse included the defendants issuing false information, and apparently manipulating customer complaints, which were sent to regulatory bodies including Trading Standards and Ofgem.

Damian and his legal team collected and presented evidence suggesting the defendants may have had a financial motive, including requesting money from BES in order to cease their abusive behaviour, as well as discussions about a potential deal with an energy brokerage, whereby they would receive a payment for forwarding customer complaints to the broker, who would then attempt to move them from BES in return for a commission payment.

On the 24 January 2018, the defendants were issued with an order containing a penal notice. They have given undertakings to the court that they will cease their behaviour with immediate effect and also remove within 7 days any published reference to BES and its directors, employees, agents and representatives. Both defendants signed the following statement: 'We withdraw any allegation of fraud or dishonesty against Business Energy Solutions Limited and BES Commercial Electricity Limited, their directors, officers, agents, legal advisers and other professional representatives.'

Damian Carter said:

“The internet and social media offer a place for people to vent and air concerns – but all too often this is abused. Unfair online criticism, harassment and falsehoods can be devastating for businesses on the receiving end and should not be tolerated.

“I am very pleased to have been able to secure this result for BES Utilities and its people and we hope this outcome reassures both businesses and individuals that successful action can be taken if they are facing similar abuse and hate online.”

Managing Director, Andy Pilley, said:

“We are delighted that our company and our people have been totally vindicated and that this long running online hate campaign is finally at an end. Damian and his team at Weightmans persisted where others did not and we are grateful for their advice, determination and confidence throughout.”
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