NEWS12 September 2012

Sorrell files to dismiss "baseless, frivolous" defamation suit

Legal North America

US— Lawyers acting for WPP chief executive Martin Sorrell have filed to dismiss a defamation suit brought against him by the law firm representing broadcaster NDTV in its legal battle over Indian TV ratings.

Sabharwal & Finkel principals Rohit Sabharwal and Adam Finkel claim Sorrell made a series of false and defamatory statements about them in an interview with an Indian website while discussing the TV ratings case, however Sorrell’s representatives call Sabharwal & Finkel’s accusations “baseless and… frivolous”.

“Boiled down to its essence,” they write, “this case is about a plaintiff law firm, which advertises on its own website that it does work on a contingency fee basis, and its two members, one of whom lives and works in Florida, and the other of whom advertises his speciality in restaurant law, who are complaining that they were defamed by Mr. Sorrell’s statements that they are a ‘two-lawyer firm… based in Florida… [which] specialises in restaurant law… with lawyers working on a contingency fee basis’.”

In arguing for a dismal, Sorrell’s lawyers say the statements are not defamatory – “they are either fully or substantially true” – and are protected as opinion.

Sabharwal & Finkel are acting for NDTV in their TV ratings lawsuit, brought against WPP and several of its companies, including Kantar, which seeks more than $810m in damages. NDTV claims that false ratings data produced by TAM Media Research – a company jointly owned by Nielsen and Kantar – had caused it to lose ad revenue.

WPP has said previously that NDTV’s lawsuit is without merit and it has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint.