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Davenport Lyons Lawyers Disciplined over Illegal File Sharing ISP Threat Letters

Posted: 10th Jun, 2011 By: MarkJ
p2p copyright uk ISP file sharing lawdavenport lyons ukThe UK Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) has upheld complaints of professional misconduct against two Davenport Lyons lawyers, Brian Laurence Miller and David Joel Gore, after the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) last year accused them of knowingly "targeting people innocent of any copyright breach" (here) when they sent "bullying" settlement letters to those suspected of being involved with "illegal" broadband ISP based P2P File Sharing.

According to ComputerActive, the verdict was passed down after a seven day substantive hearing, which began on 31st May 2011. It's understood that the SDT will now summarise its findings before deciding what sanctions should apply in July 2011, which could include a fine and or disbarment.

Law firms usually track abuse by monitoring the Internet Protocol ( IP ) addresses of online users, which are assigned to your computer each time you go online and made public by BitTorrent P2P networks. The SRA's Timothy Dutton QC described such evidence as being of the "flimsiest" variety.

Indeed IP's can easily be faked, hijacked, redirected and generally abused in ways that the systems employed by such trackers cannot detect. Furthermore IP's are often shared between many users (e.g. family members, hotels, libraries, public Wi-Fi etc.) and as a result cannot be relied upon to accurately identify the individual responsible for the act itself.


Fig.1 - Example of P2P torrent download files

The move ultimately followed a 2008 complaint by Which?, who claimed that the firm had used "excessive" and "bullying" conduct in pursuit of those it suspected of being involved with illegal broadband ISP file-sharing. The boss of an equally notorious law firm, ACS:Law (Andrew Crossley), faces a similar hearing in October 2011.

As for Davenport Lyons, they stopped pursuing such matters in 2009 and Brian Miller has since left the firm. Meanwhile David Gore continues as "a member of the firm's Governing Board" (i.e. Partner).
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