THE LAW FIRM that made enemies of the Internet and Anonymous, ACS:Law has failed to find a fan in the judge presiding over its cases and faces picking up the tab for wasting everyone's time.
The law office headed by Andrew Crossley was responsible for sending out thousands of letters to Internet users that accused them of illegally downloading content and demanded they pay reparations.
No one, except Crossley and Mediacat, a firm that worked with ACS:Law on its postal campaign, thought that this was a good idea, and no one wanted to pay them the £500 that they were after.
Out of the ten thousand lucky letter recipients some twenty six were hauled into court by ACS:Law, but after receiving some attention from Anonymous and perhaps a dose of common sense, Crossley asked to have the lawsuits dismissed.
Judge Colin Birss QC didn't let Crossely escape that easily though and he insisted that the ACS:Law cases went ahead, while presumably waiting patiently to bring down the gavel on all the nonsense.
Today, Judge Birss described the ACS:Law cases as "amateurish and slipshod", and said they have "brought the legal profession into disrepute".
"ACS:Law's conduct was chaotic and lamentable. Documents which plainly should have been provided were not provided. This was not the behaviour of a solicitor advancing a normal piece of litigation. I do not doubt that this led to unnecessarily incurred costs," he added
Ralli Solicitors, a law firm that represented some of the people taken to court by ACS:Law, welcomed the ruling and the judge's decision to make ACS:Law pay legal and other costs, and added that it will continue to represent any other victims of its letters.
"We have considered from an early stage that these actions against our clients were not brought correctly. This Judgment supports our view in all material respects," said Michael Forrester of Ralli's Intellectual Property and IT law team.
"It can be incredibly upsetting for people to receive these letters and they may well have a claim in harassment, so I am urging them to come forward."
Both Mediacat and ACS:Law have ceased trading, but will get a chance to oppose Judge Birss' order imposing sanctions, whether that's advisable or not, at the court's cost hearings. µ