‘Bullying’ Anti-Piracy Lawyers Await Trade Tribunal

While a settled approach to tackling online piracy was trashed out through Digital Britain and the Digital Economy Act over the last year, some solicitor firms have taken a direct approach, sending letters for clients demanding compensation from alleged infringers.

Which? magazine has opposed the practice, and now is claiming to have won ground.

It reports the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has referred a lawyer from one of the main such firms, ACS Law, to the profession’s Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) – a response to a complaint Which? filed in May 2009 that letters ACS sent on behalf of clients like games developers Reality Pump and Topware were “bullying” and “excessive”.

As we reported at the time, Topware earned a combined £16,000 in costs and damages from a case in which it sued one woman who downloaded its Dream Pinball 3D game. Individual amounts sought in letters are £500, Which? says.

In March, the SRA referred two more lawyers, partners from the Davenport Lyons firm, to the SDT in response to a similar complaint.

But neither case has been heard by the tribunal, and Which?’s own top lawyer is complaining that resolutions to the cases could take four years.