Lawyers for IHRB claim to have engaged the well-known defamation expert and barrister, Mr Stuart Littlemore QC, demanding that I delete the articles on this website, saying that they will file for defamation. They have also demanded that I pay their legal fees and that I pay a sum of money in lieu of damages for defamation to Mr Cohen and to his 51% shareholder/silent-partner, and to IHRB itself. The lawyer ended with, ‘If we do not immediately receive undertakings acceptable to our clients, we are instructed to commence action against you in the Supreme Court of New South Wales without further notice.’
I responded with this letter below. Let’s see where this will lead.
UPDATE: The solicitor in question was Mark Marando. On the 25th of November 2013, Mr Marando was Disciplined by the Council of the Law Society of New South Wales. He was reprimanded and fined $4,000 with conditions imposed.
I received your letter dated 5 May 2011. Your clients’ demands are intolerable. They merely inflame the situation, strengthen my resolve, and accelerate my action. I will not comply. You must proceed as you see fit. My team and I would welcome any court challenge. It is exactly what this saga needs.
If you will permit me, I wanted to extend to you some points that your clients might like to consider. It is not my place to offer any advice. However, as this is our first communique, I thought to share with you some friendly ideas that might be useful. If I am overstepping the mark by offering unwelcome observations, please accept my apologies and disregard the rest of this letter, because I have already responded to you above.
If your clients are concerned about their reputation, they should remember that people are judged by their actions. I sent a short note seeking to make contact with the 51% shareholder around September 2009. I received no response. Is Mr Cohen’s silent partner concerned about having his name on my website, or is he also adamant that he would like to defend IHRB?
Hypothetically, if the majority shareholder is trying to protect his reputation, then by challenging me, he is really trying to say to the public that, as a man of integrity, he is willing to sue me because he does not want his name unjustly associated with the word ‘scam’. He is saying that he disapproves of scams, and that he values business ethics. Assuming this is the thrust of his efforts, then how would the public expect the majority shareholder and silent partner to behave under such circumstances? The public would be curious to know what the fuss is all about, and why he is challenging my consumer advocacy. How do men of integrity behave when they are presented with a range of allegations made by aggrieved clients? I believe that people would ask: when did the 51% shareholder first learn about my concerns? And when he started to read the website, what did he do? The answer thus far is that the silent partner sent his legal team to make demands. This type of action seems unwise. A man of substance might have spoken with me and put his customers’ interests first. A man who values ethics and honesty would have been alarmed to read the articles on my website. He would have gone in search of the truth. He would have visited IHRB and requested the contact details of all the clients who had complained, and called them and said, ‘I am most concerned to think that IHRB might have wronged you. Please join me over a cup of tea so that I can understand your grievance and see if I can make amends.’
An upright businessman would seek justice, wherever it may lie. He would have engaged a team of auditors to trawl through IHRB’s files in search of the truth, so that he can be part of the solution, and not part of the problem. A major shareholder would call the CEO [Mr Sam Cohen] into his office and demand a full inquiry, run by an independent person appointed to dispense justice. No doubt that a 51% shareholder would be expected to defend his company, but only if his company is worthy of defence, and only after all the facts have been assessed.
So now the public will want to know what this legal threat from your client is all about. Your client still has a small window of opportunity to contact me and say, ‘Jonar, I am deeply concerned about your website, and I really need to find a solution to this problem. And I have no hesitation in suing you and seeking injunctions and taking the matter to the Supreme Court and engaging a QC to protect my company, but Jonar, is there any truth in what you say? If there is, I want to know about it because, as a man of honour, I want to fix it. I would never allow one of my companies to behave in this way. So let’s sit down and work this out and show me where we might have harmed some clients. However, Jonar, if you cannot prove what you are saying to me, I will spend any amount to stop you from publishing lies.’
But the 51% shareholder did not do this. Instead, he sent a letter of demand, which has done nothing more than press the red button that was first activated by Mr Cohen; causing me to take action. Maybe he saw his name on Google and was saddened to see it associated with the word ‘scam’, and he would not fancy the idea of his associates thinking that he is involved with anything that could blacken his character.
Sir, my life is an open book. Each of my publications exceeds 550 pages. My philosophies are on YouTube and in the public domain. What I stand for, is presented on a silver platter for your clients to peruse. Anyone can delve into my character, and those who do, would appreciate why I am injecting so much energy into this campaign. Let’s put aside any judgement for a moment, and query why I would go to such extraordinary lengths. Your client might conclude that I am a nut-case, or he might realise that I am onto something. Anyone studying my character would understand that I have a red button. When it is pressed, I accelerate. Abusive behaviour energises and propels me. And your clients’ demands are poking my red button. Your client is fuelling the very thing that he is trying to extinguish!
If your client’s core motive is to keep his name away from Google, then today’s letter achieves the opposite. By his own actions and bad strategic moves, his name will be all over the media, as he tries to combat my consumer action.
Far be it from me to offer any advice to a man who might soon become my opponent in court, but I will offer a friendly piece of advice, thus: The website is not going away. The chances now are that any escalation of this matter could result in his name being featured more prominently on a range of sites and perhaps wider media exposure. There is no law that prevents media outlets from reporting the facts. The current entry on my site, featuring his name, is one that merely states a fact about him being a shareholder. It is not defamatory. It is an entry that says that, according to ASIC, he was a director, and now he is a shareholder. That is a fact. Since when was that defamatory? I guess your legal advisers might have told you that the only way that he can attempt to prove defamation is to oppose my entire website on behalf of IHRB, but this would mean that your client would have to first say that everything that I have published is false. But if it were proved to be true, then he would have given the media a reason to expose and fuse his involvement in IHRB’s appalling behaviour.
In my expert opinion, the only sensible course of action, is for the 51% shareholder to contact me, ask genuine questions to establish the truth for himself, and then show his true colours by:
a) helping the many clients who have been harmed by his company
b) fixing the scam that is in motion, or
c) divesting from IHRB as a matter of principle.
I encourage your clients to consider one possibility: what if my assertions are true? What if the scam is proved in court? It would mean that the silent partner would have stepped into the spotlight by taking legal action to defend Mr Sam Cohen, thereby becoming tarred with the same brush. By defending the Institute of Hair Regrowth & Beauty, he would have been saying that he had condoned Mr Sam Cohen’s actions. By disputing my articles on the site, he would be attaching his name to each allegation, thereby associating his name with each and every element of the scam.
What we know now is that his name is on my site, reflecting a statement of fact about him being a shareholder. What started as a small entry stating a matter of fact, will become a spectacle because your client would have told the world that he is defending Mr Sam Cohen and IHRB’s misconduct. If he loses, he will find that his name will end-up in court documents, the general media, and hundreds of other websites. (The same will occur even if he wins.) Not to mention the film production team that might follow this saga to make a documentary of my entire battle. (The McLibel DVD tells of a similar story about the UK’s longest running legal battle which in many ways resembles this one. I strongly urge any company considering legal action to study the McLibel DVD. One stupid decision ruined a lot of people.)
I believe that it would be prudent for your client to step back, contact me, attempt to seek the truth, and fix the situation, or divest his shareholding, then he would do well to issue a public statement, allow me to interview him for a story so that he can explain why he decided to part ways from IHRB, so that I can tell my readers what this ethical, upright man has done to distance himself from the scam. Then, when his associates read about him, they can judge him by his gallant actions. It would prove his mettle and courage. Wise actions of this nature would earn him more credit than he could ever hope to attain by attempting to obstruct justice through bully tactics…
If you only have limited time to read the articles on my site, may I please encourage the silent partner to read this one (please click here for the link ).
That article is long, but I urge you and the silent partner to read it carefully and slowly, from an impartial stand point. If there is any word or any sentence that does not make sense or is puzzling or unclear due to medical jargon, please contact me and allow me to explain its significance. It is imperative for their sake that your clients really understand every aspect of that article. But that is just my friendly advice, because anyone who really understands that letter, will comprehend why and how IHRB is on thin ice. Just step back from any emotional ties and consider where IHRB is headed if it could be proved that each and every word in that letter were true. I am telling you, emphatically, that it is 100% true. While your client is worrying about his reputation, he must dovetail this with his actions, especially now that he knows what is happening. He cannot plead ignorance. Why is he allowing Mr Samuel Cohen to force clients to waste their time and money to seek justice. After reading those 9211 words, you will see that IHRB’s actions are inexcusable and despicable.
More evidence is being compiled about that case. That client has filed a CTTT application. A hearing date has been set for 9 June. Why is IHRB putting him through this waste of life? He has a simple part-time job. He has to take time off work. He does not earn much money. He lives far away. Parking and tolls to the city are prohibitive. He is a young man soon to get married. IHRB has ripped him off. This is a fact. Do not dispute it until you gather hard core evidence. I am 100% certain that IHRB’s actions cannot be defended. Why is your client generating such enemies by allowing Mr Samuel Cohen to rip people off like this?
Yesterday we received a confirmation from the pharmacist who said that this client’s medications were never dispensed for that client, and that the prescription was never presented to that pharmacist whose name is on the bottles. You might accuse the pharmacist of lying, but the Health Department records do not lie. A dispensed script will be on a government computer. We have evidence to prove every aspect. Mr Sam Cohen received 9211 words demanding a refund, and he responded with more lies! Is that within the realm of decency? How can the silent partner stand-back and allow the Institute of Hair Regrowth & Beauty to start bush-fires, while the best he can do, is threaten me with legal action? Does your client have any idea how IHRB is enraging clients through blatant fraud? He is creating his own problems by associating himself with Mr Sam Cohen and now doing nothing about it. I receive calls from so many clients who are fed-up and exhausted by Mr Cohen’s lies. I know it first-hand because I was a victim. Other clients who contact me are distressed. Most, sadly, do not complain about IHRB to the authorities. The majority of the people who contact me, give-up on pursuing their rights. Hence, Mr Cohen wins and thinks that he is clever, while triggering disgust in his path. Most people who call me about IHRB are overwhelmed by the brick-wall that is Mr Sam Cohen. He is a discredit to his silent partner, unless of course both men are of the same character. I have no idea.
So if those 9211 words were true, what would you think is the future for IHRB? What would happen to your client’s reputation if he persisted to press my red button and finally find that his name is associated with a soon-to-be disgraced company? The Google search-results would then be enormous, and a far cry in the opposite direction from where your client wanted them to be. Also note that there is a real possibility of prison terms for Mr Sam Cohen. Where would the silent partner’s shareholdings end-up if his only salesman/CEO is charged on a serious matter? How would it look for your client when he might soon have to admit to the world that his business partner has a criminal record? Mr Sam Cohen’s incredible luck is running out, because I know what is going on in the background, and Mr Cohen is too smug to know it.
The articles posted on my website are just the tip of the iceberg. As the man in the control tower, I know what is going on behind the scenes of this campaign, and I am telling you now that there is MUCH more to come. So do you really want to rattle me with your absurd demands, when the end-result will be additional adverse media exposure about a 51% shareholder who fought to defend his company, which was later proved to be a scam, and which will fail in a puff of smoke?
Thus far, I have outlined the ‘public affairs’ and the ‘media affairs’ angle. What about the financial ruin of anyone associated with IHRB? When my team and I prove the scam, the courts might order IHRB to refund the money to all clients. If there are 550 clients who each paid $3500 (to pick random figures), that’s almost $2 million. Then add penalties, court costs, and refunds to people who paid exorbitant prices like $900 for a bottle that the pharmacist compounded and invoiced at $80 (by law, that is the price that IHRB must charge, notwithstanding that by law, IHRB should never have handled the medications). If IHRB had to pay compensation to people who had been ripped-off and harmed, this would run into the millions. So indeed, this is a real possibility. Suing me will not make these facts go away.
For the sake of argument, even if IHRB obtains an injunction or proves defamation, and even if my site were shut down, and if an apology were made and compensation paid, none of this would void the question of the scam. I will continue to pursue the matters that are already being reviewed by the authorities. So please ponder the end-result. With or without a website, I will persist with my claims because I have the evidence and I know that IHRB is a scam. And I can prove it to your client if he is incensed at this suggestion. With or without a website, I believe that IHRB is going to be exposed by the authorities. So how would your client halt the torrent of media exposure then?
As a media-man myself, I am offering you free expert advice: the 51% shareholder is welcome to contact me to work out a solution that would involve him showing how he is going to exercise his leadership and how he is going to exhibit his integrity. There are people hurting out there, and he ought to think of their needs before he thinks of his; for no other reason than it is a legal requirement to run a business that does not mislead and defraud the public.
It is now obvious that the silent partner knows about these allegations. So from now on, he is ‘deemed to have known’ about them. This means that any delay on his part will only create more problems for him in the future, because authorities will be asking him what actions he took to rectify the exploitation of innocent consumers.
Sir, I am sickened by your client’s behaviour. The facts on my site are clear. I truly do not believe that they do not know about the scam. So here I am, communicating with people who are showing no signs of decency. If all that information on my site does not convince your clients that the game is up, and that people are being abused, then I guess there is nothing more for me to say.
I am resolute. I am immovable. I am a man of conviction, supported by real evidence and a strong team that is equally furious about this type of corporate behaviour.
P.S. IHRB is the name of the Institute of Hair Regrowth and Beauty run by Sam Cohen (Samuel Faraj Cohen) formerly of 105 Pitt Street Sydney. It is also written as Institute of Hair Regrowth & Beauty or Institute of Hair Re-growth & Beauty and the company purports offers hairloss (hair loss) and hair growth treatments. IHRB is now located at 9 Renwick Street in Leichhardt NSW 2040.