ACS Law file-sharing case settled "confidentially"

14 Jul 2011
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ACS Law court case ends in a confidential settlement

A long-running file-sharing case involving ACS Law has been settled confidentially out of court.

ACS Law and sole solicitor Andrew Crossley targeted alleged file-sharers, sending "speculative invoicing" letters demanding settlement payments of £500 to avoid court action.

The law firm sent thousands of letters, but took only 27 people to court - before promptly trying to drop the cases. After a series of hearings where the evidence was repeatedly brought into question, the case has now been settled out of court.

Ralli Solicitors, one of the firms acting for several of the defendants, said "the matters have been settled on a basis confidential between the parties".

The case was essentially killed off by Judge Colin Birss in March, after ACS Law failed to get the rights holders to join the case. However, Judge Birss had been deliberating a wasted costs motion, that could have seen ACS Law required to pay the costs of the case rather than claimant MediaCAT, which was merely a licensee of the content that was allegedly uploaded to file-sharing sites.

ACS Law was shut down earlier this year and Crossley has since been declared bankrupt. He had told PC Pro that ACS Law's insurance would cover the costs.

Ralli said the settlement proved there were flaws in the case. “We considered from an early stage that these actions against our clients were not brought correctly," noted solicitor Michael Forrester. "The Judgment and eventual settlement supports our view in all material respects.”

“We are dealing with cases where consumers have explained how they cannot possibly have uploaded or downloaded copyright protected material, but they are still pursued," he said. “The legal basis for the claims made against these alleged file sharers involves complex legal and technical principles. These are extremely difficult for a lay person to understand and can lead to an innocent person being pursued.”

While the Patent County Court case is finished, Ralli is continuing with a group harassment claim against ACS Law - which can proceed now that the other case is settled, Forrester told PC Pro.

Crossley also faces a hearing in front of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, to answer seven charges of misconduct, including "acting without integrity" by providing false information to the courts.

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