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”
The hearing regarding ACS:LAW and Media C.A.T has now been well covered. My own personal favourite moments from Judge Birss are at the foot of this article.
The reason for this post though is that it seems we have forgotten those OTHER people involved with all this over the last THREE years now.
I would like to show those who are only just reading up about all this, the bigger picture.
Davenport Lyons were the original Law firm (2007), who gave over a lot of their material and clients, to ACS:LAW (May 2009) including a number of the paralegals, amongst them Terence Tsang. Davenport Lyons were investigated by the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) and referred to the SDT (Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal)  
Tilly Bailey Irvine were up next (January 2010) and for a few months sent out letters defending Pornographic films, Although the films were legal in the sense they were certificated, the actual names of these films were VERY provocative and one could only imagine the distress caused to the Wife or indeed Husband who opened one of those letters.
Tilly Bailey Irvine withdrew citing “Adverse publicity” (April 2010)  not before being condemned in the House of Lords as “Latest entrants to the hall of infamy” and “An embarrassment to the creative industries” and also being accused by Wikipedia of “Vandalising” their entry.
In a wider attack by the Lords during the Digital Economy Bill, the actions of these “Piracy Chasers” was condemned as “Blackmail and a Scam”
Gallant Macmillan entered the fray defending The Ministry of Sound in July 2010. With the online community outraged at yet another “Speculative invoice” entering the scene, letters started being sent to the Chief Master who issued the NPO’s that forced ISP’s to hand over details of their subscribers.
The “Anonymous DDos attacks on ACS:LAW brought down their website in September 2010 and then ACS:LAW accidently released a HUGE email archive online which was quickly snatched and posted to torrent sites, The contents of the emails were explosive.
The huge data leak gave added impetus to the Courts handing out the NPOs and a hearing was adjourned . When it was reconvened BT/Plusnet refused to hand over their subscribers data and then it was learnt that BT had destroyed the records it held for Gallant Macmillan. Gallant Macmilan were subject to DDos attacks.
Gallant Macmillan withdrew after BT destroyed the data they requested after a delay in obtaining a “norwich pharmacal” order, they deemed they could not make enough money out of the scheme to make it worth their while.
ACS:LAW just kept ploughing on though, using Logistep first as a “Data monitor” then Digiprotect, and then an obscure firm called NG3Systems.
After the DDos attack that destroyed their web presence it was thought that that would be the end of them. They continued issuing letters however with Media C.A.T who represented Pornographers Sheptonhurst amongst others. ACS:LAW were investigated by the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) and referred to the SDT (Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal)
Forced into a corner of ”put up or shut up” after claims he would never take a case to court, Crossley attempted a Court hearing against some recipients who had NOT responded, what is known as a “Default Judgement” It failed on an epic scale.
Some of those accused actually sent in a response and a defence and the hearing ended in disarray as the Judge ordered a search for all other cases on the Court system. He found 27 of them and arranged for a Court hearing to work out what direction should be taken.
With the Community totally focused against them and watching every move they made, it became clear that ACS:LAW/Media C.A.T were desperate, to drop all the cases. The Judge refused adjourned the hearing and set a new date for January 2011 
A new letter went out from a company called GCB Ltd, the community smelt a rat and rightly so. According to the Judge it was an attempt by Crossley and Bowden to get the last bits of money they could.
For the rest read the judgment online. My favourite parts are below, and show what we knew all along, it was a Scam of epic proportions.
Media CAT and ACS:Law have a very real interest in avoiding public scrutiny of the cause of action because in parallel to the 26 court cases, a wholesale letter writing campaign is being conducted from which revenues are being generated. This letter writing exercise is founded on the threat of legal proceedings such as the claims before this court.
The information annexed to Mr Batstone’s letter refers to ACS:Law having “recovered” £1 Million. Whether that was right and even if so whether it was solely in relation to Media CAT or other file sharing cases I do not know. Simple arithmetic shows that the sums involved in the Media CAT exercise must be considerable. 10,000 letters for Media CAT claiming £495 each would still generate about £1 Million if 80% of the recipients refused to pay and only the 20% remainder did so. Note that ACS:Law’s interest is specifically mentioned in the previous paragraph because of course they receive 65% of the revenues from the letter writing exercise. In fact Media CAT’s financial interest is actually much less than that of 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. 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?
Friday 09 April 2010 by Andrew J Crossley (My clients are pleased with the service I provide. I have conducted file sharing-related work for 11 months; to date I have recovered close to £1m for my clients.)
The GCB episode is damning in my judgment. This shows that Media CAT is a party who, while coming to court to discontinue, is at the very same time trying to ram home claims formulated on exactly the same basis away from the gaze of the court. That will not do. I find that these notices of discontinuance are indeed an abuse of the court’s process. The advantage of discontinuing as opposed to applying to amend is unwarranted in that it avoids judicial scrutiny of the underlying basis for wider campaign orchestrated by Media CAT and ACS:Law to generate revenue under the various agreements such as the Sheptonhurst agreement.
One might think a claimant (and their legal adviser) who was giving their claim serious further consideration before perhaps starting it afresh in a different form or dropping it altogether, would certainly not assert the very same claim against other people not (yet) before the court. The GCB episode shows that Mr Crossley’s client had every intention of doing precisely that and that ACS:Law were perfectly well aware of it. It is very difficult not to draw the inference that this was nothing more than a last ditch attempt to make some money from the letter writing exercise.
And maybe the most damning part with implications for the Digital Economy Bill, that an IP address alone; “cannot and does not purport to identify the individual who actually did anything.”
Just listened to the “BBC RADIO 5 Investigates” Program Good effort on their part. 30 minutes dedicated to this issue.
If a Man claims that he won’t burgle a shop, and has “Safeguards” to prevent himself from doing so, but then burgles the shop anyway, can you imagine a Judge saying, “Oh that’s ok, you had ‘safeguards’ so that you wouldn’t do it, the fact you HAVE done it is irrelevant”, can you see this happening? No of course not, but in what can only be described as a “parallel universe” ruling, the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has done just that.
BT who sent details of their Subscribers to ACS:LAW, didn’t even encrypt the Excel Documents. ACS:LAW had gone to Court with a list of IP addresses claiming that they belonged to “Copyright Infringers”, BT WITHOUT mounting ANY defence at Court to defend their Loyal subscribers, sent the documents to ACS:LAW with NO protection whatsoever.
The Documents contained the following information on over 400 Subscribers their names, Postal address, IP Address, Alleged date of infringement (Hit Date), Time (UK Date Time), and the Content Name.
On the Plusnet Forums, angry Subscribers wanted answers, they still do. A thread on the forum has attracted 130 pages, over 2000 replies and close to 100,000 views. They have STILL not got the answers regarding ACS:LAW. True Plusnet HAVE engaged with their subscribers on the forum, but they are stuck with having to deal with this issue via the BT Legal Team.
The ICO speaking to the Guardian said, The ICO closed its investigation into the apparent data breach earlier this month after ruling that BT was not liable for the mistake, which it said was committed by one of its employees. It added “Where it is found that the data controller has adequate policies and safeguards already in place, the usual and most appropriate outcome in these cases is disciplinary action taken by the employer”
Well we KNOW who that Employee is, his name is Prakash Mistry, he is the Senior Finance Manager at BT. Not sure about you, but I really don’t see much discipline happening there, do you? No ICO has acted shamefully in this, as the Solicitors Regulation Authority have in regards to ACS:LAW.
There seems NO justice for the man on the street in all of this and seems a classic example of a Corporation flouting the rules with impunity.
A letter from Prakash Mistry to ACS:LAW requesting a “Report”(A requirement of the NPO order RE Plusnet) into how many people had been taken to court, was met by an arrogant letter accusing those requesting the report on the forums were;
“… written by pro-piracy advocates with their own specific agenda” and “our client is taking away a method of obtaining their members copyrighted works without paying for them and that upsets those who have enjoyed free media this way”
These were outrageous slurs on their subscribers, met with SILENCE by BT.
These concerns of course can be dismissed, BT being a corporation (No soul to damn, no ass to kick) and ACS:LAW a one man band, whose Boss Andrew Crossley is now discredited in the eyes of many.
What can’t be dismissed is the LACK of protection afforded to those affected by the ICO, as with the SRA it seems they are toothless; ball-less, impotent shadows, paper tigers with all the bluster of action but with the movement and intent of a slug.
UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham told the BBC he had new powers, to act with fines,(Regarding ACS:LAW) of up to £500,000, but much like the BT “Safeguards”, that only works IF IT IS USED! Can we really look forward to the ICO doing much better with the case against ACS:LAW? We wait and see, but not holding any breath.
The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:
The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.
The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 130,000 times in 2010. If it were an exhibit at The Louvre Museum, it would take 6 days for that many people to see it.
In 2010, there were 57 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 147 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 24mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.
The busiest day of the year was May 27th with 6,649 views. The most popular post that day was ACS LAW send out Phishing Questionnaires UPDATED.
Where did they come from?
The top referring sites in 2010 were torrentfreak.com, slyck.com, consumeractiongroup.co.uk, ispreview.co.uk, and twitter.com.
Some visitors came searching, mostly for gallant macmillan, andrew crossley, wordpress blog acs law, acs bore, and acs law wordpress.
Attractions in 2010
These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.
ACS LAW send out Phishing Questionnaires UPDATED February 2010
“Tilly Bailey and Irvine” Stop sending “Speculative Invoices” to save their Reputation April 2010
Davenport Lyons, ACS:LAW, Tilly Bailey and Irvine, SHAME ON YOU March 2010
Received a letter from ACS LAW? Dont panic January 2010
I would like to thanks Slyck, Enigmax of Torrentfreak and ACS:FLAW, or just Flaw who is a legend! Thanks guys and gals onto 2011……
It was rumoured in the forums but now it is official, Gallant Macmillan are no longer representing Ministry of Sound.
In a terse letter to a person accused, Gallant Macmillan the controversial Law firm with links to the Infamous ACS:LAW has announced that it is no longer being instructed by Ministry of Sound, ALTHOUGH it also states that Ministry of Sound are in the process of instructing another firm and that the recipient would “likely to hear from in due course”
Although this sounds rather sinister, it may well be bluster, it is hard to think of what Law firm would pick up the Poison Chalice of further “Speculative Invoicing” cases.
Davenport Lyons fell by the wayside in May 2009, the firm who gained the paralegals from Davenport Lyons, ACS:LAW are still struggling with the legal issues that they have brought on themselves what with the email leak that is being investigated by the ICO and the SRA referring their Principal Andrew Crossley to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal as a result of sending out these letters.
Tilly Bailey Irvine attempted these “Speculative invoicing” for a short time, but long enough to also attract the attention of the SRA who are investigating them for the same reasons. Their reputation was further damaged whenthey were caught “vandalising” their page on Wikipedia in an attempt to erase all mention of their actions.
Terence Tsang the paralegal who left Davenport Lyons for ACS:LAW, left them for Cramer Pelmont. Cramer Pelmont announced that they would start issuing letters in the same model. This did not actually come to fruition though as the ACS:LAW email leaks showed that Tsang has also been working for ACS:LAW whilst at Cramer Pelmont, an accusation that Cramer Pelmonts head honcho Alex Brassey had denied just a week previous.
So just who WILL take instructions from the Ministry of Sound? I would like to think that no one would, but I have underestimated ACS:LAW before…..
Just also want ot say, HAVE A GREAT CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR….PLEASE DO NOT ALLOW THESE PEOPLE TO RUIN YOUR HOLIDAYS.
This is an article from MusicAlly, an industry site.
This article includes contributions from the excellent Beingthreatened.com and your favourite “amateurish shouty, unprofessional” Blog ACS:BORE
Please download the musically Article
Musically is a subscription based website aimed at the industry, but they have kindly released this part of the article.
Thanks also to Enigmax at Torrentfreak
EDIT: Link is now fixed
After one of the BIGGEST data leaks in UK history adding misery to thousands of people many of them innocent, ACS:LAW seem to be deaf to the cries of reason.
Unbelievably they have continued to send out letters of claim to people they suspect of illegal file-sharing. What it means to be suspected by ACS:LAW is unknown as their monitoring apparatus is NOT available for public scrutiny and indeed in some of the leaked emails even ACS:LAW staff were not convinced by the “Expert Witnesses” that are supposed to have see the software used to identify IP addresses.
Below is part of a scan of a letter sent THIS month (October) on behalf of Media Cat, whose Boss Lee Bowden goes back a long way with ACS:LAW Boss Andrew Crossley.
Lee Bowden “represents” RELISH Adult films that is owned by Jasper Faversham, AKA Jasper Orlando Slingsby Duncombe AKA 7th Baron Feversham. Faversham was disinherited by his Father (Got the title but nothing else), but of course this has NOTHING to do with money does it?
Media Cat are seen as small time chancers in the emails leaked, indeed Lee Bowden seems quite upset that he is not getting his cut, “Everyone is getting eir(sic) bit and I am owed £17k ffs.” Faversham himself does not come across much better “Much looking forward to sending letters to these f$$$ers,”, and that from a LORD no less!
Cramer Pelmont the new home of “Speculative Invoicer” Supreme Terence Tsang, has anounced it’s intention to join the “file sharing litigation arena”
What this may mean is not clear as in a piece done by Which? Alex Brassey claims it has NO INTENTION of adopting the same methods used by ACS:LAW Tsangs previous employer.
Quite what Mr Brassey means is unknown, he goes on to claim the that Terence Tsang was employed in April 2010 and that he has NO working relationship with ACS:LAW after that time. Hmmm oh really?
Indeed Mr Brassey goes onto say “I can assure you that Terence is employed as a trainee solicitor on a full time basis with Cramer Pelmont, He is not under any contract with ACS Law and has not worked for them or with them since joining our firm.” Hmmm oh really?
In the interview with Which? Terence Tsang said ”‘What I was doing was introducing a new data supplier to Andrew because he was having trouble with his current one. The deal did not go ahead because I turned it down – there was a conflict of interest.” Hmmm oh really?
It is actually quite refreshing to see Mr Tsang speak in public, as many people who were accused have know of Terence Tsang stalking the Chatrooms set up to help those accused, seemingly to illicit confessions from people who had received letters from ACS:LAW.
From the emails it shows that either Mr Brassey is being economical with the truth, OR he has been deceived
Some of the emails are clear
10 August 2010
Good to catch up with you too.
They will do the monitoring for 17.5% Gross and will be ready to rock and roll on Friday (they need to add hardware). This is down from 30% net, as it is what they usually get in German, it is split 30/30/40 in Germany. This includes a 2.5% for me which they will pay me direct.
18 August 2010
How are things going?
I am writing to give you a short update – all of the titles will be monitored by Friday. I know that Patrick as various questions which I will forward to you tomorrow (mostly in relation to the name of titles). I should be in a position to give you an indication on quantity of captured addresses shortly.
Others are CRYSTAL
It may be of interest to some that Terence Tsang first started at Davenport Lyons, and then left to form part of the core team at ACS:LAW, when the pressure from consumer groups outraged at their actions resulted in an investigation by the SRA, and a referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal for two of the Heads at Davenport Lyons. Now it seems he has jumped ship again, just as another former Boss is referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal
Of further interest it seems that Terence Tsangs Bio at Cramer Pelmont EXCLUDES any reference to ACS:LAW, we can only wonder why?
UPDATE: Please click here for a (Partial) list of emails by Terence Tsang and others (PDF) (Thanks 8of9)
EDIT: The emails captures are posted for authenticity. Please click on the image and it should open in a NEW window fully sized and readable.
UPDATE: An announcement has been made on the Cramer Pelmont Website: “Cramer Pelmont has ceased its interest in working with clients in the area of the Digital Economy Act. It continues to work on all other aspects of IP”
UPDATE 2: Cramer Pelmont Alex Brassey has confirmed that Terence Tsang has LEFT their business and went on to state ” the reason it has ditched working on the Digital Economy Act is because it is self defeating – file sharers are downloading content because they like it, so to prosecute a potential investor is like shooting yourself in the foot. A model needs to be thought up whereby file sharers are not targeted aggressively, as with ACS:Law’s tactic.”
Quite a U-Turn I think you will agree.
In a startling email between Andrew Crossley and Andrew Hopper QC (concerning collaborating with Tilly Bailey and Irvine), Andrew Crossley dismisses Davenport Lyons efforts (Which he based his whole practice on) as “.. a little bit rubbish at doing this work” and adds “….to arrogant”
What is really interesting is that it appears that Andrew Hopper QC is actually working with ACS:LAW and also Tilly Bailey and Irvine by advising them how best to deal with the SRA.
In the email Crossley continues regarding Davenport Lyons arrogance by stating “…not like me, TBI or the latest brigand Gallant Macmillan”
The link with Gallant Macmillan is unfortunate timing for them in light of the email leak. Gallant Macmillan are back in Court on 4th October to contest the release of an NPO which will give them permission to get lots of further names from the IP addresses they already hold (for the Ministry of Sound).
The original hearing was on the 20th September 2010 but was adjourned as Chief Master Winegarten the presiding Judge had reservations about granting the NPO. This was covered in an article by Torrentfreak
It will be a VERY interesting October 4th when Simon Gallant walks through the door and has to put his case before the Judge, in light of ACS:LAW releasing their emails to the public
To write to Chief Master Winegarten CHANCERY DIVISION, ROOM TM 7.08, THE ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE, STRAND, LONDON, WC2A 2LL
The full email is here
ACS:LAW have been dealt a catastrophic blow to their “Speculative Invoicing” Business Model. A staggering amount of emails both internal and external have been released onto the Web for all to see. The leak is allegedto be from a DDos carried out by 4Chan
The leak confirms lots of things that we only thought before but that is for a later post. What is of interest here is the SRA Report and the response from Andrew Crossley. The Report includes a breakdown of money he has taken so far.
An online version of the email leak is available here. http://ueof.co.uk/acslaw/?_task=login (This will be up and down due to traffic)
Updates to come