Things have been steadily going downhill for UK firm ACS:Law and client MediaCAT since Judge Birss QC began heavily scrutinizing the firm’s mass copyright infringement settlement letter scheme late last year. Things were looking so bad during the last hearing that both ACS:Law owner Andrew Crossley and MediaCAT owner Lee Bowden have finally decided to get out of the predatory settlement letter business before Judge Birss could make a ruling to ban the letters, an action that was expected to come at the scheduled hearing next Tuesday.
According to a document uncovered by TorrentFreak, the two men have not only stopped conspiring to send the harassing settlement letters, but they have also completely disbanded their businesses as of January 31st.
“Ahead of Judge Birss’ judgment due on Tuesday, it would seem to some that Mr Crossley and Mr Bowden are attempting to avoid not just ‘judicial scrutiny’ but financial responsibility for the flawed claims that they foolishly decided to issue,” James Bench of UK consumer advocacy group BeingThreatened told TorrentFreak. “They perhaps hoped that they might gain a judgment which they could use to threaten future letter recipients, instead their greed has led to the exposure of the significant and manifold flaws in the legal and evidential basis of the speculative invoicing scheme they employed.”
Despite the companies’ closures, however, Crossley and Bowden will not be off the hook from the damage they’ve already caused for the UK residents who were victims of their settlement letter scheme.
“MediaCAT’s status as a private limited company may not protect [Bowden] from personal legal liability for the costs that will be demanded by the defendants of the claims MediaCAT brought,” Bench stated. “ACS:Law was not a limited company in any sense. Mr Crossley will remain entirely and personally liable for all the actions of his firm.”
Next Tuesday’s hearing will carry on as scheduled, but it remains to be seen whether Crossley or Bowden will actually show up to it. Even if they don’t show up, Crossley will still be on the hook to face a disciplinary hearing with the Solicitor’s Regulatory Agency for the unethical tactics his firm has used throughout since 2008.
This one isn’t quite over. Stay tuned for news from Tuesday’s hearing.