Law firm abandons file-sharing threats
By Hani Megerisi
Posted on 12 Apr 2010 at 17:08
Tilly, Bailey & Irvine Solicitors (TBI) has announced it will stop sending out letters accusing people of file-sharing and demanding compensation.
The law firm is under investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), along with UK firms Davenport Lyons and ACS Law. All three firms have been the subject of formal complaints made by consumer group Which? to the SRA.
Hopefully, other law firms thinking of going down a similar route will refrain as we believe the practice is inherently unfair and unethical
The investigations centre on letters which were sent out by these firms accusing people of illegally sharing music, games, pornography and films, before demanding up to £700 in compensation, or threatening the user with legal action. The letters are sent out in large batches in a process called volume litigation.
John Hall, managing partner at TBI, said the decision came down to the "adverse publicity" being attracted to the firm. "We are concerned that [it] could affect other areas of our practice and therefore, following discussions with our clients, we have reluctantly agreed that we will cease sending out further letters of claim."
However, he stressed the withdrawal "does not alter our view that our conduct has always complied with the Solicitors Code of Conduct."
A spokesman for the SRA refused to comment on the investigation, but noted two directors from Davenport Lyons had already been sent before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunals, an independent body that monitors the profession. Brian Miller, who is no longer at the firm, and David Gore are now awaiting the tribunal.
“The allegations have not been worked out yet as the tribunal operates to a criminal standard of proof,” explained the SRA spokesman. "[But] just because Davenport Lyons has been referred to the tribunal doesn’t necessarily mean the others will... [they] are still under investigation.”
However, Which? was swift to laud TBI's decision to get out of the volume litigation game. “We’re really pleased to hear that TBI has seen sense and decided to move out of the volume litigation business,” said Deborah Prince, head of legal affairs at Which?. “Hopefully, other law firms thinking of going down a similar route will refrain as we believe the practice is inherently unfair and unethical.”
“Excessive” and “bullying”
Which? launched its first claim against Davenport Lyons back in December 2008, calling its tactics “bullying” and “excessive” and accusing the law firm of “engaging in volume litigation.”
Davenport Lyons subsequently abandoned letter writing and transferred its business to ACS Law, which also became the subject of a Which? complaint. TBI was the last to face Which?’s wrath in February this year.
All three firms represent music, film and game studios. Which? has slammed the groups for scaring innocent people and has welcomed the “proportionate and graduated response advocated by the Digital Economy Bill” in these matters.
The consumer group claims to have received numerous complaints from concerned internet users, who say they are being falsely accused.
“My 78 year old father yesterday received a letter from ACS:Law demanding £500 for a porn file he is alleged to have downloaded,” one of the complaints to Which? read. “He doesn’t even know what file sharing or bittorrent is so has certainly not done this himself or given anyone else permission to use his computer to do such a thing.”
Is your business a social business? For helpful info and tips visit our hub.
"The letters are sent out in large batches in a process called volume litigation."
Or...... bullying and intimidation as it's more commonly known.
By Lacrobat on 12 Apr 2010
So once the Mandelson Economy, sorry Digital Economy, Bill goes through and gets publicity, people will live in fear of getting cut off because of the actions of their kids/neighbours, or just plain incompetence.
All I have to do is send out a few million random letters demanding £500 paid to 'cash', and off I retire to the Caribbean.
Corruption, dontya just love it - no coincidence that half of Meddlesome's cabinet colleagues are lawyers.
By davidsoap on 13 Apr 2010
I just wonder what would they do if EVERYBODY started downloading pirated torrents :> Would the law firms bankrupt with all their stationary expenses? Would ISPs agree to cut off all their customers?
Is that not a strangely alluring idea? :D
By Josefov on 13 Apr 2010
- 20 years of PC Pro: our greatest review mistakes
- 20 years of PC Pro: our first A-List
- Wikipedia's "right to be forgotten" protest hits the wrong note
- 3D printing hits the high street for plastic selfies
- 20 years of PC Pro: What amazed us in our first issue
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Windows Easy Transfer – not so "easy" in Windows 8.1
- Formula 1: what a difference virtualisation makes
- Office of the future: comfy chairs and tablets everywhere
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office
- How to write your company's IT security policy