ACS:Law, a shady UK firm that makes money by sending “pay up or else” demand letters to residents who have been accused of illegally sharing movies online, was back in court this week after a disastrous appearance involving eight cases thrown out by the judge last month. They didn’t fare well this time around either.
The hearing only involved a single case, but ACS:LAW employees made so many errors that Judge Birss QC, the same justice who presided over the former cases, ordered a hearing next month to review the rest of the outstanding cases filed by the firm.
Judge Birss presented a letter to the clerk of court from the defendant in the case:
“Following our phone call today regarding the claim form I have received from yourselves [on behalf of] ACS:Law, I apologize for the belated reply as on the claim form there is no mention of timescale, or a acknowledge service form for me to respond to, which I believe should have been included,” said the defendant.
It seems that the first mistake ACS:Law made here was not including the necessary paperwork for the defendant, referred to by the court as Mr. Billington, to respond to the allegations. Billington goes on to explain that he did not receive the paperwork until he sent the firm a letter asking for further evidence of the alleged infringement. In that, he also noted that there are five computers in his residence with multiple users, and none of the systems had an IP address that corresponded with the firm’s claim.
In addition, Billington stated that the “threatening letters from ACS: Law demanding monies” caused him to believe that he was actually a victim of “some sort of scam”.
The final straw for Judge Birss may well have been the fact that ACS: Law addressed the demand letters in the case to one Allan Billington. There is no Allan, but rather an Aaron Billington at the address where the alleged infringement took place.
Next month’s hearing will involve the remaining 27 cases the firm has filed with the court, which, it appears, have an extremely high probability of being dismissed.
If that happens, it could mark the last of these predatory cases heard in the UK court system for quite some time. TorrentFreak points out that ACS: Law, and other UK firms that handle these types of cases, are rapidly losing their entertainment industry clients.
The attorneys and legal aides employed by ACS:Law should be ashamed of the shoddy way they have handled these cases. If there truly is justice, the final 27 cases will be dismissed and ACS:Law’s owner, Andrew Crossly, will be disciplined accordingly for harassing hundreds of residents and wasting the court’s time. Stay tuned.