ACS:Law’s owner Andrew Crossley along with his partner-in-crime, MediaCAT owner Lee Bowden, may have attempted to leave behind their messy handling of their predatory copyright infringement threat letter business when they closed up shop just over a week ago, but UK Judge Birss QC has ruled that the two aren’t going to be let off the hook that easily.
At today’s hearing, which Crossley and Bowden unsurprisingly neglected to attend, the court decided it would not allow the firm to drop its cases against 26 alleged copyright-infringing file-sharers. The judge also did not hold back his negative assessment of Crossley and Bowden’s business decisions.
Judge Birss noted that the two have “a very real interest in avoiding public scrutiny” and are trying to protect the revenue they’ve generated from their “wholesale letter writing” business, TorrentFreak reports.
“Whether it was intended to or not, I cannot imagine a system better designed to create disincentives to test the issues in court,” the Judge said. “Why take cases to court and test the assertions when one can just write more letters and collect payments from a proportion of the recipients?”
Judge Birss stated that the processes ACS:Law used in the cases were “based on untested legal and factual propositions and issues of technology” and that the settlement letters “materially overstate the untested merits of Media CAT’s approach.” He also described the firm’s earlier claim that they were unable to provide documents for the court’s scrutiny as “extraordinary”.
“A party who keeps key documents which are cited in the Particulars of Claim in storage is not a party anxious to progress their claim in court,” he said.
In addition, Judge Birss was once again critical of the firm’s misuse of GCB Ltd, a dormant company that Crossley and company decided to setup as a center in which to funnel payments from letter recipients.
“The GCB episode shows that Mr Crossley’s client had every intention of doing precisely that and that ACS:Law were perfectly well aware of it,” the judge said of Crossley’s attempts to stall the cases. “It is very difficult not to draw the inference that this was nothing more than a last ditch attempt to make some money from the letter writing exercise.”
The next chapter in this legal comedy of errors is scheduled to take place on March 16th, when the court will address the issue of whether ACS:Law and MediaCAT will be responsible for the “wasted costs” associated with these cases. Check back with MyCE for the latest.