Now, this is an interesting/concerning situation. It’s a bit long winded, but I’ll try to be to-the-point.
Just to clarify, writing this blog post is going to be a real struggle, like 50 Cent when he was growing up in the hood. I’m going to hold back a lot of my usual obscenities, just to keep shit legit.
Well, yeah, Mark Sawyer Of Property Association has threatened to take legal action against me over a comment someone else left on my blog. Someone called “Phil” labelled Mark as a liar, which Mark felt was slander. Apparently I could be in legal trouble for that, which I find a tad unfair. People chat shit about me all day, and it harms my reputation, but it doesn’t really bother me. It’s life as far as I’m concerned.
It all started in this article, Be Careful Of Property Associations, where I copy/pasted a negative comment left by someone in a forum thread that had a negative experience with a Property Association company. My message was simple- be careful when dealing with property associations (no company in particular- just the general concept of the scheme), because they’re not plain sailing money-making opportunities as some people believe them to be.
For those unaware, these types of companies find discount investment off-plan property, which give homebuyers instantly high equity.
Since posting that article, words have been exchanged in the comments section by particular individuals. The situation quickly turned nasty. I wasn’t actually aware of the banter- I don’t moderate comments because I don’t have the time to, especially because I’m a part-time blogger, consequently spend days absent from the internet. What can I say? I’m just a part-time geekaziod.
On the 11th of March I received 9 formal emails from Mark between the times of 1pm and 9pm, some of which implied that legal action against me was on the cards if I didn’t comply with this his demands. That’s 9 EMAILS in the space of 8 hours!! Some were duplicated, but were sent on different times, so I’m assuming he was resending the emails to make sure I got the message LOUD AND CLEAR.
I, of course, was oblivious to all of this, because as usual I didn’t finish work until 5pm, and that particular night I had a football match after work, so I didn’t get through my front door until about 21:00. I checked my email inbox at about 21:30, only to see an array of emails from Mark.
What was most alarming is that his first email was sent at 13:45pm, where he shapely explained the situation and asked me to remove the article before the close of business, and also to hand over contact details of Phil (the guy who left the slander). He emailed me again at 16:11, giving me a, I quote, “FINAL WARNING” to remove the entire page by 17:30, otherwise he maybe forced to get a court injunction against me.
Bear in mind, I hadn’t even read any of the emails until 21:30, let alone the “final warning” which was sent 3 hours after the first email. Out of curiosity, is a 3 hour gap between the first email and a “final warning” appropriate or even normal? I thought it was extremely unfair. At LEAST give me 24 hours to respond to the first email.
In my opinion, the saddest part about it is that he didn’t even approach me in a respectable manner. He just went all guns blazing with legal jargon, telling me what I should be doing and by when. I felt like I was being bullied. Had he have been a little more courteous and explained the situation to me (the situation i wasn’t even aware of) calmly and respectably, then the situation could have been a lot more easier/friendlier. I would have rather worked with Mark on this, to tackle the issues, as opposed to working against him. Ironically, on his website, there’s a quote from him, which says the secret sauce to his success is highly based on attitude. To quote, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference” Right, of course.
After playing catch up (after reading his emails and the comments left on the page), I actually realised what the deal was. I immediately got in touch with my solicitor for legal advise, and then responded to Mark’s email. I asked him to tell me precisely what specific parts of the page he had a problem with. I told him I would remove anything which comes under slander. I had no problem with that at all. I don’t want any illegal practises on my site, nor do I want anyone wrongfully accused of anything, including Mark.
Do you know what he responded with? He emailed me definitions of “slander” and “defamation” which he had copy/pasted from somewhere online, told me the specific problems with the content, and then told me to remove the entire page- because that was the only suitable solution.
I haven’t removed the article because I don’t feel I have to, and it certainly isn’t the only suitable solution as far as I’m concerned. I did, however, change every aspect of the page Mark had a problem with, all with in 24 hours of Mark telling me what the specific problems were. I think I’ve been more than accommodating, especially since I felt like someone was bitterly barking orders at me, without an ounce of common courtesy. Obviously I want to resolve the issue without any legal proceeeings, because I can’t imagine anyone likes playing dodgeball with the legal system, but Mark seems adamant for me to remove the entire article, which I’m reluctant to do.
I have nothing against Mark or his company, that’s why this has caught me off guard. I didn’t see any of this coming, and to have 9 emails somewhat relating to legal prosecution was unexpected. A simple, “Hey, what’s up? My name’s Mark. There’s a small issue on your site, so I was wondering if you could help me out…etc”, would have been a lot more well received. Go figure, aye?
Is this what humanity has really boiled down to- “fuck the pleasntries, I’m going to threaten you with legal action?” It seems ridiculous to me. This isn’t just about me, it’s a lot bigger than me, this is about bloggers all over the globe and freedom of speech. I don’t think anyone should have to be bullied, worried, or threatened by legal action in these circumstances. I didn’t even say anything wrong, it was someone else- and I rectified the issue as soon I was clearly explained what the problem was.
I’ve been reading around online, and I’ve managed to find bloggers who have found themselves in similar situations. The most famous case being Aaron Wall, from SEObook. Aaron actually won his case, so congratulations to him. More recently, another hugely popular blogger, Shoemoney (page has since been removed, but it was regarding Disa Johnson and Heather Lloyd Martin legal action).
Anyone’s support in this situation would be much appreciated. EVERYONE wish me luck, please =/
Disclaimer: I'm just a landlord blogger; I'm 100% not qualified to give legal or financial advice. I'm a doofus. Any information I share is my unqualified opinion, and should never be construed as professional legal or financial advice. You should definitely get advice from a qualified professional for any legal or financial matters. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.