UK lawfirm faces hearing over copyright enforcement tactics

For the past few years, lawyers from the UK firm Davenport Lyons have been heavily involved in the enforcement of copyright laws on behalf of some of the country’s major movie studios and record labels. Soon, two of the firm’s representatives will be finding themselves in front of a judge in order to defend themselves.

In 2008, complaints were filed against Davenport Lyons’ former partner Brian Miller and solicitor David Gore by a consumer advocacy group, Which?, alleging that the two had used “excessive” and “bullying” tactics with citizens who were accused of illegally downloading films and music. Now a date has finally been set for a hearing.

UK lawfirm faces hearing over copyright enforcement tactics

Miller and Gore will finally go before the Solicitors Regulatory Authority disciplinary tribunal on May 31, 2011 to justify their actions of sending several hundred demand letters to alleged file sharers. The letters, which were not well-received, threatened recipients with a court hearing if they didn’t pay a £500 fine.

“We’re pleased to see some action at last from the SRA and hope the tide is finally turning in favor of consumers. We want to see some decisive action to stop these bully-boy tactics,” said Deborah Prince, head of legal affairs at Which?. “Had the SRA decided not to pursue our complaint, its decision would have been very serious for the regulation of the legal profession.”

This will be the first legal action against Davenport Lyons in regards to the letters, though it won’t be the first time the firm has suffered repercussions from their actions. The members of Anonymous staged an Operation Payback DDoS attack against the firm on September 23rd to register their displeasure with their tactics. That attack resulted in nearly 9 hours of total downtime for the firm’s web servers.

It’s going to be a long wait until the end of May to see what the SRA has to say about Davenport Lyon’s actions. The outcome will set a precedent as to whether firms across the UK can continue to use tactics like these demand letters in file sharing cases. It would be nice to see them take steps put a stop to it.