Davenport Lyons Lawyers Referred To Disciplinary Tribunal Over 'Pay Up Or We'll Sue' Copyright Threat Letters

from the shakedown dept

A few years back, UK law firm Davenport Lyons made a splash by sending out a ton of "pre-settlement" letters to people accused of file sharing, threatening to sue them if they didn't pay a few hundred pounds. The law firm used a default judgment (i.e., a case where the defendant didn't show up) to claim that it had the law on its side and would sue and win. Of course, an investigation into the thousands of letters being sent found that plenty of innocent bystanders were being sent those letters as well -- which certainly raised all sorts of questions about the legitimacy of the effort. The negative publicity resulted in some high profile Davenport Lyons customers backing out of their relationship, and eventually a new entity called ACS:Law to pop up to continue the effort -- though, an investigation found that the documents used by ACS:law were created by Davenport Lyons.

Despite many calls for sanctions against the lawyers for taking part in an effort that has remarkable similarities to a traditional shakedown scheme, there had been little response from regulators. However Marcus alerts us to the news that two Davenport Lyons lawyers have now been referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. I'm not quite sure how this process works in the UK, but it seems like it's about time that someone was checking in on these activities.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 4:04pm

    Scum of the earth

    these are the types that like in previous post sell there children and first born to satan, sue dead people, sue disabled and crippled people.

    all for a hundred or so pounds
    YUP when your failing in business sue everyone
    then you die

    ask SCO

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 4:32pm

    How is this different from extortion?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 5:08pm

    Re:

    Didn't you know? IP is the nicer term for extortion.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Joseph Young, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 8:17pm

    A slap on the wrists

    I think the worst that could happen to David Gore and Brian Miller is that they’re told not to do it again and made to pay costs. Being told not to do something you stopped doing a long time ago isn’t much of a sanction. I suppose they could receive a small fine. However, the letters sent out by Davenport Lyons were much more carefully worded than those from ACS:Law. While forceful, they didn’t over state the case to the same degree that ACS:Law have. The tribunal may not find against them.

    While I believe champerty is still a criminal offence in Germany, it was decriminalised a few decades ago in the UK, just as it was in the US. It’s just another regulatory matter. In the leaked letter from Kornmeier & Partner to Davenport Lyons, Kornmeier & Partner appear to admit to entering into a champertous contract with DigiProtect over contentious matters. Even if it turns out that Davenport Lyons followed that proposal and funded the court action themselves for the four or five cases that went to court, of which Miss Barwinska’s was the most high profile, I don’t think things will be that much worse for Gore and Miller.

    It’s ACS:Law and now Tilly Bailey & Irvine whom action needs to be taken against. Andrew Crossley, the sole principal at ACS:Law, has form (PDF) with the SRA, although regarding unrelated conduct.

    Last Monday, the BBC’s mainstream current affairs programme, Panorama, covered the possible consequences of the Digital Economy Bill. The episode has been variously panned by the online technology press and activists, but I thought it was a pretty good attempt considering the intended audience and the thirty-minute programme length.

    The BBC has already got into trouble over impartiality due to a piece by Mark Thomas in their arts programme, The Culture Show, that had previously covered the Digital Economy Bill. But, you could tell during the Panorama programme that the BBC were doing their best to convey their views subliminally. Of all the pirates they spoke to, David Pomfret wasn’t one of them. He was on the receiving end of one of these legal nastygrams, making a false accusation that he’d file-shared Scooter’s Jumping All Over the World. All the pirates had two legs. Mr Pomfret, while not a pirate, was the only person with just one. And, to drive home this point, clips of Mr Pomfret hopping on his crutches were interspersed with clips from Scooter’s video for Jumping All Over the World containing their distinctive Jumpstyle dancing.

     

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  5.  
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    Joseph Young, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 8:21pm

    Moderation?

    Hey, when did you start moderating the comments?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 8:31pm

    Re: Moderation?

    he moderates the comments now? Mike, is this true?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Joseph Young, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 8:47pm

    Re: Re: Moderation?

    Well, obviously not all of them. Both my short comment and your one have appeared instantly. My much longer one was greeted with a page saying it was going to be moderated. It was long and had several links in it, so maybe some computer algorithm categorised it as spam.

    Until my second post appeared, I had no way to know if the moderation message was a glitch or because my ‘wonderful’ post looked too spammy, or if it was new policy. I searched the blog for a post by Mike on moderation, but didn’t find one.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 10:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Moderation?

    "My much longer one was greeted with a page saying it was going to be moderated. It was long and had several links in it, so maybe some computer algorithm categorised it as spam."

    Yeah, I've had that happen before, this is nothing new at all. It's just an automatic anti spam mechanism to stop people from spamming by eliminating posts with too many links, that's all.

    The problem I see with techdirt is that it often doesn't delete duplicate posts for one thing. The posts get cluttered up and there is no reason for duplicate posts to appear, just the first one for timestamp purposes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 10:41pm

    Re: Re: Moderation?

    he moderates the comments now? Mike, is this true?


    As noted, we have a spam filter for the comments that tries to moderate spam using a variety of systems to measure spam. We get somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000 spam comments per day (it's nuts). Basically, they hit us non-stop. The filter catches probably 99.99% of those. But, every so often it catches legit comments as well. After a recent burst of spam we upped the sensitivity on the filter a bit, but because of that we're also checking it more often to free up legit comments.

    If your comment is caught (a tiny percentage of legit comments get caught) we release it usually within a few hours.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 10:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Moderation?

    The problem I see with techdirt is that it often doesn't delete duplicate posts for one thing. The posts get cluttered up and there is no reason for duplicate posts to appear, just the first one for timestamp purposes.

    We generally don't like to delete any comments once on the site. Duplicate comments get a little tricky, because sometimes people have replied to them, and it makes the threading messy if you start deleting them. So, as a general rule, we just leave them up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Rain, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 7:30pm

    Here is an inetersting view on the question of copyrighting: http://www.videorolls.com/watch/Do-Copyright-Laws-Stifle-Creativity-Lawrence-Lessig

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    mark mccormac, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 4:17pm

    csis tortures me acoustic weapon

    stops mail emails and phone calls to family in plymouth sin ne505944bsammy james mcloughlin 11goad ave prinec rock plymouth

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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