ACS: Law solicitor stops pursuing file sharers

David Ludlow
25 Jan 2011
ACS: Law solicitor stops chasing file sharers

Dramatically drops cases in the middle of court

A lawyer for the controversial legal firm that sends letters to suspected file sharers has dramatically announced in the middle of a court case he brought that he'll no longer be persuing the same line of work.

Andrew Crossley, a solicitor at ACS:Law, was in the middle of proceedings against 26 people at the Patent Court, when he made the decision to stop.

"I have ceased my work...I have been subject to criminal attack. My e-mails have been hacked. I have had death threats and bomb threats," he said in a statement, reported the BBC.

This level of whining will only bring joy to the people that have been on the receiving end of one of the file-sharing letters. These accuse the recipient of having downloaded illegal material and request an out-of-court settlement of hundreds of pounds to bury the matter.

This kind of approach has angered pretty much everyone, to the point where hackers even attacked ACS:Law and got hold of confidential emails containing private information of the people the legal firm was pursuing. According to the BBC, this breach is still being investigated by the Information Commissioner and could lead to a hefty fine for Mr Crossley.

Meanwhile, the controversy of the types of letters being sent continue with doubts being cast on their legality. Last year ACS:Law lost its first court cases for a variety of technicalities.

However, His Honour Judge Birss QC said that he found the cases had some unusual features, including "the claimant's right to be a claimant at all is somewhat unclear on the face of the pleading".

Summing up the most recent case, Judge Birss has said that discontinuing the cases was not a simple matter, as none of the defendants were in court. This leaves them open to a further legal case pursued by the copyright holder, in this case ACS:Law's client MediaCAT.

"Why should they be vexed a second time?" asked Judge Birss.

He also questioned the reasons why the court cases were being dropped, saying that he got the impression that "there is a desire to avoid any judicial scrutiny".

Judge Birss is now considering banning MediaCAT from sending out any more letters until all of the issues raised in the case had been satisfactorily resolved.

It's a clear step forwards for common sense and a victory for every regular person who could fall prey to such tactics.

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