It has been said the ACS:LAW “Speculative Invoicing” debacle wont be over till the Fat Lady sings, well, the date has now been set for the 16th January 2012.
In an email from the SDT, it says
I confirm that the substantive hearing in relation to Mr Crossley and ACS:Law has been listed for the week commencing January 16 2012.
This will be the THIRD time that Andrew Crossley has been hauled before the Tribunal, since he became a lawyer in 1991... Some record.
Whilst the US Copyright Group (Dunlap Grubb and Weaver) whom Crossley tried and failed to work with are now facing their own potential Waterloo, the previous Law Firm whom Crossley took the Shilling from (Davenport Lyons) has also just been found guilty at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, although they are of course appealing.
This news marks a remarkable fightback against these Law firms who seek to “....make up with the lost revenue by creating a revenue stream and monetizing the equivalent of an alternative distribution channel” or in plain English "Rip off innocent people".
It is not know yet wether the SRA are still investigating the other two Law Firms that tried to emulate ACS:LAWs model, Tilly Baily Irvine, and Gallant Macmillan, however they seem to have been "Collaborating" with each other in the emails that ACS:LAW leaked.
I will update as soon as I have the answer.
As things stand, I would say to ALL those wrongly accused by these Law Firms to have a thoroughly wonderful Christmas and New Year
As has been already reported this week, Davenport Lyons duo, Dave Gore and Brian Miller have been punished by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. One would have thought that this would be an end to the saga, many thinking that they got off quite lightly with just a £20,000 fine and a suspension of a mere three Months.
Not good enough for Davenport Lyons though, they plan to appeal…. After wreaking havoc for two years on the General public before introducing us to ACS:LAW and Andrew Crossley. During their two year regime of Speculative Invoicing, they were featured on the BBC Watchdog Program incurred the wrath of Which Consumer Group and also Internet Forum Slyck and influential Blog TorrentFreak.
Why did they garner such attention? Well apart from the accusations of Old Age Pensioners sharing games and others some quite vile Pornography films :2:, the people of Britain realised that this was NOT the “Piracy Crusade”, it was made out to be.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority investigated, (some say to slowly), and they found there was a case to answer, the Davenport Duo were hauled before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in a hearing that lasted a whole week and were found guilty on SIX counts of violating the Solicitors Code of Conduct.
They have issued a response to the sanctions levelled at the two Solicitors involved:
‘We consider the decision of the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal and sanctions imposed against David Gore and former partner, Brian Miller, are totally unjustified.
Well see how foolish the opening line is? Unjustified? Davenport Lyons are a Firm of Solicitors regulated by the Soliciors Regulation Authority(SRA), they were investigated by the SRA and found wanting, FULLY JUSTIFIED.
‘Davenport Lyons is a leading law firm with highly specialist intellectual property lawyers. We were instructed by the owners of intellectual property rights in music, film and games to help them curtail the significant losses they were suffering as a result of the unlawful file-sharing of their products.
As a “Leading law firm”, they should have known better. Instructed by Owners of Intellectual property? Hmmm like maybe John Stagliano or maybe Digiprotect? . Hmmm Confusing I think as the SRA has stated, ‘used their position as solicitors to take or attempt to take unfair advantage of other persons, being recipients of letters of claim, either for their own or for the benefit of their clients’ speaks for itself.
The steps we took on behalf of our clients were for the protection of their legitimate legal rights. We consider that we acted in our clients’ best interests at all times.
Well Digiprotect was one of your clients, and here goes: DigiProtect is acting on behalf of one of the biggest adult studios in the United States, Evil Angel, run by American porn mogul John Stagliano. When contacted, Mister Stagliano appeared to be unaware of the £500 DigiProtect is demanding from alleged file-sharers to settle out of court.
“It’s not my understanding that they ask for anything near that. I think the amount was $50 (£34) or €50 (£43),” he said. “I would be very surprised and I wouldn’t be happy because it would mean it was completely misrepresented to me.”
Now what is Digiprotects Corporate Motto again…? Ahh yes “turn piracy into profit”
‘We wholeheartedly support David and Brian’s intention to appeal both the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal’s original decision and the resulting suspension and fine.’
I am sure you do, but as Michael Coyle of Lawdit said of you in the beginning…
“The cynical lawyer in me would say this is a money-making exercise. “If you send out 10,000 letters and ask for £500 each time, you only have to get half to pay up and you’ve made a significant amount of money. “Because it is porn, the person who’s being accused won’t want to go to court and is more likely to pay up to make the matter go away even if they are completely innocent.”
And more interestingly this is what Judge Birss said of those who followed you in this “Speculative Invoicing” ACS:LAW
“Whether it was intended to or not, I cannot imagine a system better designed to create disincentives to test the issues in court,” said the Judge. “Why take cases to court and test the assertions when one can just write more letters and collect payments from a proportion of the recipients?”
Why don’t you just hold your hands up and say “We are sorry, we are sorry for the pain we have caused by our false accusations and the linking of innocent peoples name to such horrid vile pornography.”
I will leave the last word to Andrew Crossley the Solicitor who you (According to the SRA) helped to set up and carry on the “work” you started.
Dave Gore and Brian Miller have been suspended by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal for sending intimidating letters of claim to members of the general public that they accused of filesharing. *
Although Gore and Miller accused the people they sent letters to , they never gave them a chance to prove their innocence in Court, they relied on people not responding to their letters to get dubious “Default payments”
The Suspension willl be for three months and they will be fined £20,000.
The SDT said:
Their judgment became distorted and they pursued the scheme regardless of the impact on the people receiving the letters and even of their own clients.
In addition to the £20,000 fine, Miller and Gore were ordered to pay interim costs to the SRA of £150,000.
The SDT went on to say:
“Some of those affected were vulnerable members of the public. There was significant distress. We are pleased that this matter has been brought to a conclusion and hope that it serves as a warning to others.
“Solicitors have a duty to act with integrity, independence and in the best interests of their clients. Solicitors who breach those duties can expect to face action by the SRA.”
The order has been suspended for 21 days to allow for appeals.
Although this is a welcome development, it no way goes to be an adequate punishment for the pain caused. £20,000 fine would be easily miniscule to the profit that was made from people scared of legal letters and paying up to make the situation “Go away”, Davenport like their successor ACS:LAW aimed the letter of claim at a cynical price of £500 – £750, the same cost to employ a lawer to fight the claim.
A Three month supension will allow them to be back in work for the New Year.
We look forward to seeing what the SDT does with the ACS:LAW/Andrew Crossley hearing later in the year, but after this rather dissapointing ruling we dont expect much.
*(For more on the background of Davenport Lyons “Letter of Claim” see the excellent Torrentfreak that broke the news way back in 2007)
**Davenport Lyons has issued a response to the SDT Findings.
“We were instructed by the owners of intellectual property rights in music, film and games to help them curtail the significant losses they were suffering as a result of the unlawful file-sharing of their products.
“The steps we took on behalf of our clients were for the protection of their legitimate legal rights. We consider that we acted in our clients’ best interests at all times.
“We wholeheartedly support David and Brian’s intention to appeal both the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal’s original decision and the resulting suspension and fine.”
Just a thought Davenport Lyons, when you are in a hole, STOP digging, you have been found guilty in the Court of Public Opinion a long time ago, and that could be easy to dismiss, however NOW you have been found guilty by you own regulatory body and their disciplinary body.
Accept you have done wrong and APOLOGISE for the pain you have caused.
You are going down the same road as Andrew Crossley and ACS:LAW by denying that you have done anything wrong. Last time we looked that path was not good…
The last Court Hearing involving ACS:LAW was postponed(17/06/11), we now know why, in what seems an almost endless wait, Ralli Solicitors have released a statement that the case has been settled, confidentially.
I am pleased for those involved in the actual proceedings that the cases have all been struck off, but bitterly disappointed for all the other recipients of letters who looked forward to hearing what costs the recently bankrupted Solicitor Andrew Crossley would have to pay.
We will never now know, we have the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal hearing in October 2011 to look forward to, Andrew Crossleys THIRD hearing, many hope that the SDT will follow the “Three Strikes and out” mentality of Crossley.
The hearing will take place on
August 18th 2011 (The date of the hearing is yet to be set thanks to those eagle eyed readers who spotted the mistake.)
The allegations are or contain the following
1) Allowed his independence to be compromised
2) Acted contrary to the best interests of his clients
3) Acted in a way that was likely to diminish the trust the public places in him or in the legal profession
4) Entered into arrangements to receive contingency fees for work done in prosecuting or defending contentious proceedings before the Courts of England and Wales except as permitted by statute or the common law
5) Acted where there was a conflict of interest in circumstances not permitted, in particular because there was a conflict with those of his clients
6) Used his position as a Solicitor to take or attempt to take unfair advantage of other persons being recipients of letters of claim either for his own benefit or for the benefit of his clients.
7) Acted without integrity in that he provided false information in statements made to the Court.
We at ACS:BORE are pleased with these charges and think they largely cover what we and many others have been saying for the last two years. We look forward to seeing the hearing in practice and feel sure that these allegation whilst unproven at the moment, will be thoroughly pursued with the full weight of the law.
This is not the first time that Andrew Crossley has appeared, this will be his THIRD time. One has to ask how many times can a Solicitor be pulled in before the Disciplinary Tribunal and be allowed to continue. We look forward to August and hope it will be a FULL vindication for all those innocent people affected by the actions of ACS:LAW and their cohorts.
Many of those who engaged with ACS:LAW in bringing this misery to the general public will NOT be tried, but for those who follow this Blog, we at least know who they are.
Thanks to Enigmax!
Davenport Lyons the originator of the odious “Speculative Invoicing” scheme, have been found guilty by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) of breaching SIX rules of the Solicitors Code of Conduct.
They were referred to the SDT by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, after a complaint by Which? and protests from many many innocent people who had received letters. , after a campaing of “Bullying” against Members of the general public.
The SDT met for a week and has now found that the SIX allegations against the two members of Davenport Lyons are proven and upheld. Brian Miller has since left the Law firm but Dave Gore is a Partner.
The SIX allegations of breaching the Solicitors Code of Conduct, now proven are as follows:
(1) Breach of rule 1.03 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007: respondents allowed their independence to be compromised.
(2) Breach of rule 1.04: respondents did not act in the best interests of their clients.
(3) Breach of rule 1.06: respondents acted in a way that was likely to diminish the trust the public place in them or in the legal profession.
(4) Breach of rule 2.04(1): respondents entered into arrangements to receive contingency fees for work done in prosecuting or defending contentious proceedings before the courts of England and Wales except as permitted by statute or the common law.
(5) Breach of rule 3.01: respondents acted where there was a conflict of interest in circumstances not permitted under the rules, in particular because there was a conflict or significant risk that the respondents and/or their firm’s interests were in conflict with those of their clients.
(6) Breach of rule 10.01: respondents used their position as solicitors to take or attempt to take unfair advantage of other persons, being recipients of letters of claim either for their own benefit or for the benefit of their clients.
It remains to be seen what sanctions will be imposed on the two.
The Firm that took up the “Speculative Invoicing” baton ACS:LAW and their Principal Andrew Crossley has also been referred to the SDT and will appear this October. Andrew Crossley has already slammed Davenport Lyons for being “rubbish” and “Arrogant” in the way they conducted their business.
The SRA said it “welcomes the decision of the SDT in this case brought for the protection of consumers”.
Updates will follow…..
Andrew Crossley the Sole Trader of ACS:LAW has been declared bankrupt. After a near two year campaign falsely accusing members of the general public and having been lambasted by the House of Lords, the Main Stream Media and the Courts, and after he as a last gasp to claw more money attempted to launch a satellite company GCB LTD, he has now faced his financial ruin…. Or has he?
Although he has been declared officially bankrupt it seems he has lost none of his trappings of status. Of course as a bankrupt he can no longer practice as a Solicitor save with exception from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), that seems unlikely as he is also facing his THIRD appearance before the SRAs Disciplinary Tribunal
As can be seen from the official notice however, the bankruptcy was petitioned for on the 22nd December 2010 by the HM Revenue & Customs. The letter sent from ACS:LAW regarding the handover of cases to GCB LTD (Which turned out to be run by ACS:LAW Employees) was dated 13th December 2010, draw from the timing what you will….
As write this I am awaiting the end of the Discliplinary Tribunal Hearing into Davenport Lyons the forerunner of ACS:LAWs business model… I will update later
UPDATE 1: The rather excellent Dina Greek who attended the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) Hearing today has said that the SDT has upheld ALL allegations against the Davenport Two, Dave Gore and Brian Miller. Their should be a write up in Computeractive Tomorrow.
The SRA had accused the two of “Knowingly targetted innocent web users without evidence” 2 It remains to be seen however why the SRA took so long to take action against ACS:LAW who they knew were running an identical operation.
But for many of us, we have finally seen some sort of Justice done.
I sent the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) an email regarding their investigation into the ACS:LAW Data Leak.
The email contained a few simple questions.
1: Why is ACS:LAW/Andrew Crossley still registered at 20 Hanover Sq London as a Data Controller.
2: Do you think it is appropriate to offer Mr Crossley a 20% for early payment of his fine?
3: Do you think that Mr Crossley may have been in a better position to pay his fine had the ICO not taken so long to conclude it’s investigation?
The reply I got from the ICO after 14 days was this.
An obvious template response, I even got the ICO’s ACS:LAW FACT SHEET. And (wait for it) How to get compensation from ACS:LAW!!! (See Below)
Well of course my thinking was that if the ICO thought that it was only worth under 20p for everyone who has had their details leaked then imagine the Compo I would get from ACS:LAW I mean I might even get a penny a WHOLE Penny. Wow well it truly has got me thinking until of course I realised that even the cheapest postal stamp (36p) would be many times my compensation, and incidentally more than the ICO fined ACS:LAW per individual.
There has been talk by Christopher Graham the head of the ICO that he would have liked to have fined ACS:LAW £200,000 but of course that was proven to be merely a dose of hot air. (See question 2)
Mr Graham in fact has been in the news a few times since regarding other “Data protection issues” and again appears to be a mighty knight roaring about the rights and wrongs of the issue and how people should protect data, but he wields a foam sword.1 2
Maybe it is not his fault, maybe the ICO is handcuffed by legislation as Mr Graham seems to believe. One thing is sure, I and many others have been through too much disruption in our lives to leave this alone now, we have invested the most precious of commodities know to humans, that of TIME, we did not ask Mr Crossley and his ACS:LAW “clown asses” to invade our lives with their preposterous allegations.
A investigation into ACS:LAW by PCPRO this week was revealing and showed how Andrew Crossley had shown the ICO to be mugs. An ICO spokesperson had told ZDNET “The £1,000 reflects his financial condition. He did drive a Bentley at one point, but he doesn’t now.” Well guess what PCPRO saw when they turned up at Crossley house? The Bentley still on his drive.
We are now over two years into this now and those accused by Davenport Lyons into their third year. This whole situation has been a travesty of Justice, where the bad guys have been allowed to accuse thousands, leak their details and remain in a good position when they should be skulking back to the rock they crawled from.
There is still light though, on Tuesday this week (31st May) Dave Gore and Brian Miller the two Solicitors accused by the Solicitors Regulation Authority(SRA) will stand before their Disciplinary board (SDT) to answer for their actions in pursuing people they KNEW to be innocent. Andrew Crossleys date is also coming soon. There is real hope that partial justice may be done to these people.
It remains to be seen wether the SRA will act in a proper way and not in the way that the ICO has acted like a “Toothless Tiger”
Yesterday at the Patents Court Judge Birss gave ACS:LAW/Andrew Crossley such a kick up his ample backside that the ripples will be felt throughout the Legal Profession.
In one of the final hearings into the Court Cases that ACS:LAW were due to bring against 27 alleged infringers (Read Innocent people) the Judge has turned his attention to Wasted Costs, ie ACS:LAW/Andrew Crossley wasting everyone’s time with his ridiculous Business Plan of targeting innocent people for alleged filesharing
I have covered the previous parts of this case on my Blog and it has also been reported rather nicely on the Torrent Freak Website.
Some stand out moments from yesterday include, comments from Judge Birss
Agreements between ACS:LAW and Media C.A.T) In my judgment there is an apparently strong prima facie case that the Basic Agreements are improper and champertous
Assuming Mr Crossley has indeed made a loss so far (and I am not satisfied I have the whole picture relating to the finances of this exercise in any event) it does not alter the fact that the Basic Agreements are improper and unreasonable.
Mr Tritton (Ralli Barrister) submitted that the Basic Agreements were negligently drafted by ACS:Law and the negligence was not merely an unintended act of incompetence but was done for ACS:Law’s benefit
In my judgment the drafting of operative clause 1.1.1 in the Basic Agreements was prima facie negligent. Mr Parker(ACS:LAW Barrister) did not advance a case to deny that, he submitted there was no evidence Mr Crossley was responsible for the drafting of the Basic Agreements. I have already dealt with that above. Mr Crossley was plainly responsible.
(NPO Applications)This is yet another example of conduct by ACS:Law which, at best, can be described as amateurish and slipshod.
(On reports that SHOULD have been sent to ISPs) I will hear counsel as to whether I should direct ACS:Law and/or Media CAT to provide the report to the court and the defendants’ solicitors or explain why there is no report to provide.
In summary, consideration of the Norwich Pharmacal orders in this case reveals, prima facie, a series of errors and questionable conduct by ACS:Law….
(On the letter of claim) In my judgment the letter is plainly negligent and may well be improper.
(Negligent Correspondance) ACS:Law’s conduct was chaotic and lamentable. Documents which plainly should have been provided were not provided. This was not the behaviour of a solicitor advancing a normal piece of litigation.
( GCB Debacle) I have already found the GCB episode shows that ACS:Law knew perfectly well that Media CAT intended the letter writing campaign to be pressed ahead with despite the court being told that the Notices of Discontinuance were being used in order for the claimant to give the matter further consideration. That finding provides further support for my finding that there is a prima facie case of unreasonable conduct by ACS:Law in relation to the Notices.
In my judgment the combination of Mr Crossley’s revenue sharing arrangements and his service of the Notices of Discontinuance serves to illustrate the dangers of such a revenue sharing arrangement and has, prima facie, brought the legal profession into disrepute
(Crossley 3rd Witness Statement) In his third witness statement Mr Crossley set out draft accounts and in paragraph 7 he summarised his position. He stated that the business model has been neither profitable nor rewarding for him in any way at all, and that neither himself nor ACS:Law solicitors have funded these proceedings and have not benefited from them. He said the control which ACS:Law has had over these proceedings is only to the extent that any litigation solicitor would have over his litigation client’s affairs and no more. He continued “By contrast both the claimant and the various copyright owners that it was representing received considerable income from the business model without any cost to them.”
There is a good arguable case that ACS:Law / Mr Crossley will be liable for the costs of this case and I will add ACS:Law / Mr Crossley as a party to this action for that purpose.
Barrister Guy Tritton is already on record describing the ACS Law case as the “most appalling case” he’d seen in his career, stressing it was a unique incident.
The Court hearing will be reconvened on the 17th June just two weeks AFTER the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal meets to decide what THEY are going to do with Andrew Crossley.
In Crossleys own words “Exciting times”