The UK Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal
(SDT) has officially published its full judgement
against Andrew Crossley
(Solicitor ID 150435
), whom was last month suspended for 2 years
and ordered to pay costs of more than £76,326.55
). Crossley's controversial law firm ( ACS:Law
) was found to have used dubious claims of internet piracy
to bully hundreds of thousands of pounds out of broadband ISP customers.
ACS:Law is understood to have sent thousands of threatening letters to people whom it alleged were guilty of "illegal
" internet copyright infringement
via public P2P (BitTorrent
) file sharing networks. The recipients were asked to cough up a hefty fine (e.g. £500+) and threatened with court action if they refused.
The firm tracked piracy by monitoring the public Internet Protocol
) addresses of people whom shared related content on File Sharing networks. Last year the Solicitors Regulatory Authority
(SRA) described this as being 'evidence' of the "flimsiest
" variety, not least because IP's can easily be faked, hijacked and shared (e.g. public Wi-Fi, office networks, home networks etc.). The controversial Digital Economy Act
(DEA) will use the same method.
SDT Judgement (Sample Quote)
The Respondent [Andrew Crossley] claimed that his work had been innovative and unique. He stated that the processes and procedures that he had used were well established in other parts of the world. He told the Tribunal that there was an enormous problem with on-line copyright infringement within the media industry.
His role had been to act for his clients to try and reduce the instances of copyright breaches. He believed that his work had been valid. He accepted that he had made errors and misjudgements but stated that these had been done unknowingly. He deeply regretted the things that had gone wrong.
ACS:Law eventually attempted to prove its worth by launching a court case against 27 individuals
(broadband ISP customers), which backfired spectacularly (here
) and ultimately resulted in the firm being shut down
and Crossley going bankrupt
. Meanwhile he continued to live in a £700k mansion and drive a £200k Bentley (here
Last month's tribunal upheld all of the SRA's seven allegations
made against Crossley, one of which accused the disgraced solicitor of abusing his position to take "unfair advantage of other persons
SDT Judgement (Sample Quote)
The Tribunal gave careful consideration to the matters raised by the Respondent in his mitigation and in his testimonials. It was clear that with the benefit of hindsight, the Respondent may have wished that he had never touched this work. The Tribunal gave the Respondent credit for making admissions in relation to six of the seven allegations that were outstanding against him.
The Respondent had known at the time that he had taken on this work that there were outstanding concerns in relation to the type of work and the way in which it was being carried out. In addition, there were a number of factors which aggravated the gravity of the allegations against the Respondent. He had written over 20,000 letters to unrepresented members of the public.
Whilst the Respondent had told the Tribunal that his firm responded to every letter sent by an individual, the Tribunal did not feel that the evidence supported this statement. Many members of the public had suffered severe stress and anxiety when they had received letters from the Respondent.
The Tribunal considered the full range of sanctions available. In order to adequately protect the public and due to the serious nature of the allegations against him, a penalty of suspension was merited.
The full judgement is linked at the bottom (thanks to Will Gilmour
for the notice). It's interesting to note that Crossley did not challenge the costs against him (£76,326.55), which "he considered to be moderate and reasonable
" (Crossley has already provided for the costs order as a contingent liability in his bankruptcy).
In closing Crossley said that he "was hopeful that his financial situation would improve in time
", which would result in him being "able to earn enough to meet his outstanding liabilities
". The full judgement is 35 pages long and well worth a read.
SDT Judgement vs Andrew Crossley - ACSLaw (PDF)