After accusing a member of a UK law firm of sending bullying letters to suspected (and often completely innocent) file sharers, a consumer magazine is proudly trumpeting news that a member of the firm will have to answer to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).
Which? Magazine has been dogged in its pursuit of Andrew Crossley and ACS Law Solicitors, a firm that “specialises in assisting intellectual property rights holders exploit and enforce their rights globally.” The complaint filed by Which? with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) revolved around a May 2009 incident in which ACS Law allegedly engaged in “bullying” and “excessive” actions towards the public, sending out thousands of letters accusing people of illegally downloading and sharing copyrighted material over peer-to-peer networks.
According to Which?, the letters demanded that recipients pay £500 (approximately $773 U.S.) in damages or risk facing civil action. Among ACS Law’s clients are game makers Reality Pump and Topware Interactive.
A TechEye story adds additional details about ACS Law’s misdoings, which allegedly included asking “alleged copyright infringers to give up their computers for forensic testing as well as confirming details about their internet connection and ISPs.”
Deborah Prince, Which?’s Head of Legal, stated, “We welcome this decision because we’ve received so many complaints from consumers who believe they been treated appallingly by this law firm.”
Prince was, however, disappointed with the snail-like pace of the proceedings, adding, “If it is going to take another two years for this case to reach the SDT and then for the SDT to reach a decision, that means we’ll have waited close to four years without any professional body taking action in order for what we say is bullying behaviour to stop.”
Earlier this year, Crossley took to his firm’s website to deny allegations of misconduct. Among his claims:
I am accused of demanding payment in my initial letters of claim. This is not true. The recipient of the letter of claim is afforded the opportunity if they wish to close the matter off and avoid the issue continuing by entering into a compromise agreement to bring the matter to an end. They are under no compulsion or obligation to do this and the compromise agreement is an entirely voluntary process;