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NY court dismisses NDTV law firm's defamation suit against WPP's Martin Sorrell

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MUMBAI: Indian newscaster New Delhi Television (NDTV)‘s law firm Sabharwal & Finkel (S&F - its legal representative in the Nielsen-TAM India case in New York) suffered a setback recently.

A New York court dismissed a defamation suit the firm had filed against Sir Martin Sorrell in August 2012, claiming that he had made libelous and slanderous statement against it in an interview with Indian financial publication livemint.com.

In that interview, Sorrell had said that the law firm was trying to extort money as a settlement from WPP on behalf of its client NDTV, which had named WPP and Nielsen in a suit relating to TV ratings irregularities by their joint venture in India TAM Media.

Secondly, S&F had stated, Sorrel had incorrectly mentioned that it was based in Florida, suggesting that the firm was violating laws by practicing there.

Thirdly, he had also said that S&F specialises in the restaurant business, whereas its specialty is "complex, commercial litigation, arbitration and banking law."

S&F had then alleged that Sorrell comments had gone viral on the internet, and, in the process, caused tremendous damage to the firm‘s reputation as it "had been charged with crimes of extortion and or practising law in Florida without a license."

Hence, it and its principals Rohit Sabharwal and Adam Finkel had no recourse to but to file the defamation suit.

But New York State supreme court judge Cynthia Kern dismissed their charges recently saying that no cause for libel or defamation can be found in the statements that Sorrell had made earlier. She highlighted that "no reasonable reader" would decide that S&F was unethical and incompetent after reading his comments; that they would understand that his statements were "an opinion about the merits of the lawsuit."

Meanwhile as reported last week, NDTV and S&F have filed a fresh appeal last week in the TV ratings irregularities case against Nielsen in a New York, excluding WPP from the suit.

(See story: NDTV files fresh appeal against Nielsen in New York supreme court )

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