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File-sharing ACS Law solicitor suspended

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By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 16 Jan 2012 at 17:17

A lawyer has been suspended from his trade and charged costs of more than £70,000 over a file-sharing case.

Andrew Crossley, the sole solicitor of the now defunct ACS Law, was banned from practising law for two years and charged costs at a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in London today.

Crossley's firm infamously sent letters to alleged illegal file-sharers on behalf of a pornography rights firm, demanding recipients pay hundreds of pounds to avoid going to court, as part of what has since come to be called "speculative invoicing".

However, none of the cases went to full trial, with Crossley himself successfully shutting down 17 cases that did end up in court.

His firm was attacked online, with his website knocked down and email database leaked, leading to a charge from the Information Commissioner's Office. The expected fine of £200,000 was later dropped to only £800 on the grounds Crossley couldn't pay - despite the solicitor seemingly continuing to live a luxury lifestyle.

Following a complaint, the Solicitor's Regulatory Authority raised a case against Crossley on seven charges, which alleged that the profit-sharing structure between ACS Law and the client MediaCAT lead to his "independence" being compromised and caused "diminished trust" in the legal profession.

Crossley admitted the first six, and denied the seventh, a charge relating to the data breach, but was found guilty on all counts by the SDT panel. He was charged £76,326.55 - although we've yet to see full details of the ruling.

Crossley declined to comment when contacted by PC Pro.

The SDT has previously issued a £20,000 fine to a pair of lawyers from Davenport Lyons - the firm that passed the case to ACS Law - for using similar "distressing" tactics.

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User comments

If you are comparing the terribleness of acts allegedly perpetrated, this man did things that make Richard O'Dwyer seem like a saint. And yet one faces 10 years in prison, while the other just loses the ability to earn enough to pay for his Bentley.

By revsorg on 16 Jan 2012

The Law is a Blindfolded Ass?

It is Justice that everyone is entitled to a solicitor.
Al Capone would surly have had a solicitor or two working for him.
That does not mean the solicitor should be bent, or work in ways that are bordering on criminal.

The SFA could have shown principle that solicitors must conduct themselves in appropriate and legitimate manner.
A two years suspension period is in my opinion, "insufficient distancing".

A useless ICO's office is matched by an inadequate and incompetent SRA.

I wonder how the fine of £76,326.55 will be paid now, noting there SHOULD still be a fine of £200,000 outstanding.

By lenmontieth on 17 Jan 2012

Legal profession needs reforming

Outrageous, as other correspondents have said.

The root problem is that the legal profession was the subject of the deregulation mania - which of course also was a major cause of the banking collapse of course. The legal profession needs reforming to its earlier state: solicitors should no longer be allowed to advertise or operate as limited companies.

The Law Society is no more than a trade union and disciplinary matters relating to lawyers should be undertaken by an independent body.

By Walsallian on 19 Jan 2012

And after two years.....

And after the two year suspension he can start up again charging £200 an hour (at least) for representing people in their legal matters.
How distasteful is that, he's obviously committed a crime even if it is a moral one and he's suspended for two years, ridiculous, he should be stripped of his qualification and never be allowed to practise again.
As to the fine, so the lovely house he lives in with the very nice Bentley he drives around in... which are apparently owned by his wife. He/they should be made to pay the fine, he would certainly be asking for his half of the assets if they were getting a divorce so why should she not be equally responsible for his fines.
These people make me sick they hide behind legal loopholes while the poor people they preyed upon are left unrepresented because they cannot afford to pay for it.
Where is the justice for them?

By dangerousdave on 19 Jan 2012

File-sharing ACS Law solicitor suspended

what about prison for non payment of fines-which should be the thick end of £100k--The rest of us would not get such a huge 'poverty' discount discount while we drove about in our bentley-or grab some of his undeclared means of supporting his luxuary life style

By invalidscreenname on 19 Jan 2012

Joint & Several liability

It's interesting that where Council Tax is concerned, co-habitees are deemed jointly & severally liable for each others debt, but apparently not in these cases. It's annoying that a husband and wife are not jointly liable, when she presumably enjoys the fruits of his "labours", even if she has her own career. He was very shrewd in making everything over to her, but if it's true that he cannot pay his fines, then he should be jailed, made to pay it off with community service, or forced to pay it from future earnings, not have it all written off! It would be interesting to see what the outcome would be should they divorce; if nothing belongs to him, then he has no entitlement to it!

By AJPCSolutions on 19 Jan 2012

Not Long Enough

This lying, cheating excuse for a human being should be banned from practicing law for life and should have the profits from his enterprise confiscated.

By shrek59 on 19 Jan 2012

File-sharing ACS Law solicitor suspended

Why wheren't questions asked when he gave all his worldly possessions and wealth away? Wheren't documents signed. Why isn't there a lien on any future earnings

By invalidscreenname on 20 Jan 2012

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