Update On Sam Sethi Litigation: We Decline To Participate
  • 61 Comments
by Mike on August 3, 2009

Update to our June post on the…absurd…Sam Sethi litigation. Our lawyers sent a letter letting them know that we have no intention of submitting the the jurisdiction of the UK courts, although we’d be happy to litigate his claims here in California. Sethi obtained a default judgment on July 30 and is now messaging people “fyi won my libel case against arrington last thurs. News to break today thought I would tell you first. pls keep mum for now.”

By “won” I guess he means we didn’t show up, as we previously stated, and so the court had no choice but to give him a default judgment. It’s important to reiterate that the courts didn’t determine anything other than the fact that we didn’t show up.

I had a long talk with a number of UK legal experts about whether we should defend the case in the UK even though we aren’t subject to UK jurisdiction. They were fairly confident we’d actually win…but that the total legal costs could exceed £500,000. That’s just not an interesting proposition for us. Meanwhile, I’ve had to cancel my London FOWA speaking engagement, and certainly won’t be visiting that country any time soon. Which is a shame since I have so many friends there.

What’s really the biggest shame is that just a couple of weeks ago Sethi was reaching out to friends of mine asking to figure out how to get out of this mess without destroying his reputation further. My response – the same thing I told him in February – write a post apologizing to the employees he lied to and cheated, and take the blame like a real adult. My advice was that the Internet tends to forgive everything over time, particularly to those who ask for it. But Sethi continues to choose his own path, and insist he did nothing wrong. It’s just a very sad situation. Someday I hope he finds peace with himself and all the people he has hurt.

Letters below:

July 22, 2009

VIA EMAIL AND FIRST CLASS MAIL
[redacted]
[redacted]
London
United Kingdom WC2R 1AT

Re: TechCrunch: Sam Sethi

Dear Mr. [redacted]
:
As you know, this firm represents TechCrunch and Michael Arrington in the libel claim filed by your client, Sam Sethi, in the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Sanjiv Sethi v. Michael Arrington, et al., No. MQ09 X02558. The purpose of this letter is to inform you that TechCrunch and Mr. Arrington will not, as is their right, submit to the jurisdiction of the English courts in this matter. As we have previously informed you in our letters of March 18 and May 17, 2009, TechCrunch is not susceptible to the jurisdiction of the English courts and the proper forum for your client’s claims would be the State of California, which is the location where the words were both written and published in accordance with the prevailing local laws and standards. As a result, any vindication that your client seeks should properly be sought in the courts of the appropriate California jurisdiction. Accordingly, defendants will not file an Acknowledgment of Service in the High Court of Justice. As we have previously informed you, any judgment that your client may obtain in this matter will be unenforceable in the United States.

Sincerely,

Responses

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  • Mike, the postcode you left in basically identifies an address (in the UK they are quite specific).

    • doesn’t matter. just blocked out the lawyer’s info bc I’m pretty sure the only reason he’s doing this is for publicity. he isn’t exactly the cream of the crop, and seemed a little eager to get all this stuff posted.

    • That address is simply the big Royal Courts Of Justice on the Strand. (Mike will have removed the office details)

    • The postcode is an address in the legal district on The Strand, around the High Court, which is where anyone might expect an expensive London lawyer to have an office.

      In case any loonies are reading: I used to live about 1/2 mile away and there is *extremely* good police protection for that area, so don’t bother the guy.

  • Why cant you come to the UK?
    What do you think would happen? they would hold you at the airport?

    I dont get it?

  • The UK legal system is more than a bit screwed up when it comes to libel, take the example of Polanski suing Vanity Fair.

    He wouldn’t come the UK in case we extradited him to the US so we let him appear via video link WTF!

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/film/4708229.stm

    I notice damages/costs haven’t been awarded yet in your actual case, the judge might award practically nothing!

  • for those of you who think the that the UK legal system is more than a bit screwed up, then one should look at i) the US patent system which is 100% dysfunctional; and ii) and the law regarding extradiction where the US can extradict people from the UK for a crime that might have been committed in the US but was NOT a crime in the UK. and funny how almost all of the extradictions are for americans trying to extradict brits. the americans don’t seem to be willing to cooperate in the other direction.
    so look a bit closer at your own laws before you comment on a legal system that has been around for more than 400 years

  • You would assume that if Sam was really having any intention of fullfilling even the slightest amount of what cost he caused he would by now have reached out to any of the former editors.

    I know of none he actually even tried to talk to and I have not heard of him since Oktober 2007. So much for his ‘interest’.

    Chances are, he really might ‘win’ with this screwed up system of the UK, but that can only be a win in a mind of an delusional.

    For me, there is the part of the amount promised in the valid contract, and travel cost cause solely by him (and acknowledged by him).

    I have not forgotten what he caused and I will not forget in the future. I am sure the fellow editors also will make sure that none of their friends or colleagues ever does Business with one Sam Sethi again.

  • It’s not just travel to the UK that Arrington should be worried about, but the EU as a whole.

  • Mike, even though I at times, I Agree to disagree with you. This time you are right ! Bugger the Courts in UK. If, the plaintiff had the balls, he would have called your bluff and filed in CA.

  • Two words: Cisco Telepresence

    (though it does suck to not be able to visit pals in the UK)

    • I’m gonna call a few of my “unknown” guys…I think they have a way now to beam Arrington right onto the streets of London via the 5.8 trillion CCTV cameras they’ve got set up to ensure the safety of the people by preventing anti-social behaviour by various ruffians who roam the UK streets.

      I knew this technology was going to be worth something one day. No worries, Mike.

  • While I think Sethi acted appallingly I don’t really understand why people think he ought to file a libel suit in the US rather than the UK. He’s a UK resident.

    Neither do I think the fact the UK system expects people to be able to prove what they say is true to be a significant weakness.

    • Because the words were not published in the UK. Therefore, the publisher shouldn’t have either the protections or the punishments of British law.

      Should someone in Saudi Arabia be able to sue your ass in the US for some crazy religious law next?

    • Martin: The defendant is in the US and the server’s are in the US. The venue was obviously chosen because of perceived advantages.

      Anything you believe to be logical is purely a coincidence. We live in a global society governed by hundreds of national governments (depending on cynicism).

  • Wow – not only did Sam screw the bloggers, but he wants compensation for being called out on it by TC?

    I didn’t know this was going on – but I’m glad your playing hard ball Mike.

    Sam, I’m sure your reading this, I’d really drop this stupidity and move on dude.

  • Why cant courts accept live video-conferencing in this day&age ? If its an issue of escaping arrest, one could go to a nearby court with same facilities.
    Welcome to court-web20 :)

    Good luck Mike, maybe it can still be done, so you can travel freely.

  • Mike, I noticed you’ve been consistent in redacting the names of counsel in these posts. Is this just a courtesy or is there some other reason?

    Your fellow blogger…

    • Phil, Mike answered this in response to the first question: “just blocked out the lawyer’s info bc I’m pretty sure the only reason he’s doing this is for publicity. he isn’t exactly the cream of the crop, and seemed a little eager to get all this stuff posted.”

  • What about being in-transit in a european airport ? can he be arrested if he changes flights at frankfurt or heathrow?

  • Calm down everyone. Mike should be fine to travel to the UK and or EU. The role of the civil court is to resolve a dispute between two parties. The Judge may order the Defendant to pay compensation and costs to the Claimant, and in some cases may penalise the Defendant with an order to pay a higher rate of interest or additional damages. However, the Judge in the Civil Court does not have the power to punish the Defendant by sending him to prison. This is the role of the Criminal Court.

    By not turning up the judge found in favour of the other party. But certainly no criminal arrest warrant would be issued, which is the only thing that would prevent UK travel. What’s not clear is what the damages are. Given the context of the case I suspect the won’t be high. If Mike refuses to pay the damages then in theory it could escalate to a Criminal court. But its highly unlikely that CPS would pursue such a case against a foreign citizen.

    In short I really wouldn’t worry about it. He won’t be refused entry to the UK on the back of this.

  • If Seth does somehow manage to convince the English courts to issue a bench warrant (for monies owed to the court etc) or even in the extreme example of him getting the EU courts to issue an EUAW, My recommendation to both Michael and Interserve is to then take Seth to the CA courts for Malicious Prosecution (for the criminal pursuit of a warrant.. since a warrant can ONLY be issued under criminal sanctions via aa UK or EU court) and/or “malicious use of process” for the Civil side.

    You might also have the ability to pursue Barratry under the CA courts (misdemeanor in CA.. though its still a felony in TX).

    Maybe the courts in the US might issue a default judement (seeing as how I doubt Seth will appear in the US) and then under the new UKUS treaty he could be then (in an extreme case) be extradited to the US.

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