/ Technology

Solicitors finally rapped for file-sharing fiasco

Lawyers under umbrella

If you’ve been following the illegal file sharing fiasco, you’ll know that the allegations against a current and former partner of Davenport Lyons have now been proved. But why were these letters sent out at all?

David Gore and Brian Miller, an existing and former partner with law firm Davenport Lyons, appeared before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) this week.

The case was brought before the SDT by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) following a complaint about the letters they sent to consumers by us here at Which?

They faced a number of charges, such as accusing thousands of consumers of alleged illegal file sharing, despite knowing that they didn’t have enough evidence to support the claims.

Letters ‘bullying’ consumers

The letters Gore and Miller sent between 2006 and 2009 accused recipients of downloading and distributing copyright-protected material over the web, and also asked them to pay around £500 in compensation in order to avoid legal proceedings.

Not only did we feel these letters were bullying, but also that they made incorrect assertions, ignored the evidence presented in defence, and incorrectly stated that failing to properly secure an internet connection was grounds for legal action.

All allegations against the solicitors have now been proved. We’re delighted and hope this judgement will send a strong message to the legal profession about the way consumers should be treated.

Similar story for ACS:Law

The last eight months haven’t been too kind to Andrew Crossley of ACS: Law either. There’s a saying that ‘what goes around, comes around’ and I’m sure Mr Crossley is rueing the day he ever entered the illegal file-sharing arena.

Andrew Crossley has had a preliminary hearing in front of the SDT with a full hearing scheduled in October. Now, he potentially faces a considerable legal bill from another law firm that’s trying to recover sums spent on defending five consumers that ACS:Law alleged had file shared illegally. This firm sent similar letters to consumers as Davenport Lyons for almost two years.

Perhaps the worry of how the wasted costs’ claim will pan out will finally give Andrew Crossley the chance to experience the same anxiety that many consumers felt when they received yet another one of his firm’s letters.

They say the wheels of justice turn slowly, but some may say they did not turn at all when Andrew Crossley was fined just £1,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office for failing to secure the sensitive, personal information of 6,000 alleged file sharers.

As far as Gore and Miller is concerned, we understand that the two are unlikely to be struck off the solicitors roll. Instead, they face a reprimand, a monetary fine, or suspension from practising. Do you think that’s fair?

A Victim! says:
9 June 2011

“Perhaps the worry of how the wasted costs’ claim will pan out will finally give Andrew Crossley the chance to experience the same anxiety that many consumers felt when they received yet another one of his firm’s letters”

Crossley wont be worried about this, his indemnity insurance covers these costs and his legal expences.

YenRug says:
9 June 2011

We can only hope there’s a good faith/good practise clause in his indemnity insurance and they refuse to payout if he’s found guilty like Gore and Miller.

a victim says:
9 June 2011

No i dont think thats fair justice, for all of those people who suffered the stress and pain that these two put them through.
They should be struck off and let this be a very sharp shock to all those who wish to follow in there footsteps. Innocent people have been put through the mill over something that they never did, would not have done and they get a slap on the wrist , its about time there profession learnt that innocent people will fight for there rights when forced to, bullying has no place in is world in any profession

NO, this is not any kind of justice. Nothing less than being struck off and fined a significant sum (say 100% of their last year’s total gross earnings would be just. The firms themselves once again get off scot free. No surprise since the Law society and its branches exist entirely to protect lawyers against complaints from those they damage, and the SDT is there to provide window dressing in the form of minimal admonishons and tiny fines when there is no other way out. No real deterrant.