Len Dastard Reports - it wasn't just ACS:Law at it...
We have brought you a couple of articles on ACS:Law sending out speculative letters in the hope of securing set amounts of compensation from suspected file sharers. You can revisit here. However, it wasn't just ACS:Law at it. London law firm Davenport Lyons were also up to no good and this month they were thankfully dealt with by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
The two offending solicitors from Davenport Lyons were fined £20,000 each and suspended from practice for 3 months. In addition, they were also ordered to pay the costs of the Solicitors Regulation Authority which has (subject to assessment) been estimated at £150,000.
ACS:Law and Davenport Lyons focused so much attention and effort on IP addresses in their letters. They claimed they had evidence based on the recipients IP address despite the fact that having an unsecured wireless connection can mean that anyone could possibly tap in to your connection and download whatever they want.
Many recipients of the letters managed to get their computers to a forensic computer examiner to prove that the claims were unsubstantiated.
The letters from these two offenders were described as "bullying" and "frightening" by Watchdog. As we know by now, they demand a set amount of compensation (anything from £500) in return for their promise that proceedings will not be issued against you.
So, what should you do if you receive any letter from someone claiming money or threatening proceedings against you?
• Check the addressee - has it been sent to you in error?
• Check out the sender - are they legitimate? Usually a quick search on the internet will give an indication of their credibility.
• What is the claim for?
• Does their evidence stack up?
If you have been sent any "Letter of Claim" then it will give you a set amount of time in which to reply - usually that is anything from 7 - 14 days. You can buy yourself extra time by replying right away and asking for further time in which to send a formal reply. They should not unreasonably refuse.
These letters should include initial evidence showing the basis of any claim against you. If there is insufficient evidence, you need to go back and ask them to supply it. You cannot respond to anything until you know the allegations against you. Certainly do not agree to pay any amount just for the sender to go away. That is what they hope you will do if they are sending out these letters in bulk. It is always advisable to keep a diary of letters sent in case proceedings are issued against you prematurely.
Were you a recipient of one of these letters from ACS:Law or Davenport Lyons? If so, get in contact with us at [email protected]