Andrew Crossley of bankrupt practice ACS:Law has received a two-year suspension from the Solicitors’ Regulatory Tribunal over the techniques he used to pursue alleged file-sharers.
The business model followed by the now-defunct firm was to target individuals it accused of file sharing, sending them invoices payable to ACS:Law and threatening lawsuits if they did not pay.
ACS:Law went bankrupt in May 2011, following a data breach that followed an attack on his site and a botched and rushed attempt at restoration, with the personal details of thousands of his targets. Crossley’s business model was criticized by consumer watchdog Which?, along with judges and the Solicitors’ Regulator (which referred the matter to the tribunal).
Of the charges brought before the tribunal – that he allowed his independence to be compromised; that he acted contrary to the best interests of his clients; that he acted in a way “likely to diminish the trust the public places in him or in the legal profession”; that he breached English rules relating to contingency fees; that he had conflicts of interest; that he took unfair advantage of the people to whom he sent letters of claim; and finally, a charge relating to last year’s data breach – only the last of these was contested.
The Tribunal also hit Crossley with costs of more than £76,000.
The Tribunal has taken a dim view of business models based on speculative invoicing. Last year, it fined and suspended two lawyers who pursued a similar strategy working for Davenport Lyons.
A hat-tip to ISP Review, which closely watched the tribunal proceedings. ®