In a new blow, small, independent reviews website www.allAgents.co.uk has launched a crowdfunding bid in order to meet potential legal costs after disclosing that Purplebricks threatened legal action if negative reviews about them were not taken down from its site.
allAgents had already suspended the Purplebricks account in an attempt to prevent legal action, but the company have revealed that they have subsequently received more correspondence from Purplebricks’ lawyers, threatening litigation. As a result, allAgents has announced it will reinstate Purplebricks’ account when it has received enough crowdfunding support to fund any legal costs that might ensue.
allAgents’ Director Martin McKenzie, says:
“The last thing we want is to go to court. We’ve done everything possible to prevent legal action – apart from yielding to Purplebricks’ demands that we acknowledge the negative reviews about them on our site are fake. They’re not fake, they’re genuine grievances from Purplebricks’ customers. This is about free speech, and Purplebricks are trying to quash it by bullying us into submission. We’re just a small business and they have a £60 million cash pot at their disposal.”
“We’ve been inundated with messages of support from both the reviewers and people in the industry. Some suggested we set up a fighting fund, so that we can keep on battling for free speech. Ideally, this money will never be needed, we hope that Purplebricks will finally accept these are genuine reviews. Then we can reinstate their page on allAgents and return the money to our supporters. But if they don’t, we’ll use it to fight Purplebricks in court.”
Purplebricks say they have audited the reviews on the allAgents site, 29 per cent of which they claim to be fake, with a further 23 per cent lacking sufficient detail to authenticate.
“We requested a copy of this audit so we could investigate these claims. But Purplebricks’ lawyers declined, saying their client ‘did not want to be put to further unnecessary costs.’ We’re puzzled by this comment, as they claim to already have done the work. Furthermore their lawyers’ letters keep coming. Again, we call on Purplebricks to provide us with the results of this audit. If they don’t we can only assume that it simply doesn’t exist.”
allAgents is now hoping to crowdfund £50,000 to cover its legal fees. The money will be held with allAgents’ legal team.
“We hope this fund will never be required. However, until Purplebricks provides the results of their audit or accept these reviews are genuine, by providing an undertaking to allow us to continue hosting their reviews free from the fear of litigation, then it will need to exist. This is about far more than just allAgents, this is about free speech,” McKenzie says.