Judge rules ACS:Law on the hook for “wasted costs”

Andrew Crossley, owner of the now-shuttered UK mass P2P settlement firm ACS:Law, is now facing claims of “wasted costs” against him for his scheme demanding cash settlements from dozens of alleged file-sharers in 2010.

UK Patents County Court Judge Birss QC ruled on Monday that the actions of Crossley’s firm not only violated the country’s Solicitor’s Code of Conduct, but also has “brought the legal profession into disrepute.”

Judge rules ACS:Law on the hook for “wasted costs”

“I am quite satisfied to the standard necessary for this stage of a wasted costs application that Mr Crossley is responsible for the Basic Agreements [the license agreements between Media CAT and original copyright holders] and has thereby acted in breach of the Solicitors Rule 2.04,” the Judge ruled today. According to that rule, legal professionals cannot agree upon contingency fees in advance of courtroom litigation, an action that Crossley and company have been caught doing on a number of occasions.

“In my judgment the combination of Mr Crossley’s revenue sharing arrangements and his service of the Notices of Discontinuance serves to illustrate the dangers of such a revenue sharing arrangement and has, prima facie, brought the legal profession into disrepute. It may be better placed under the revenue sharing heading in this judgment but it is, prima facie, improper conduct in any event,” Judge Birss added.

“ACS:Law’s conduct was chaotic and lamentable,” he continued. “Documents which plainly should have been provided were not provided.  This was not the behavior of a solicitor advancing a normal piece of litigation.  I do not doubt that this led to unnecessarily incurred costs.”

Crossley, whose actions Birss called “amateurish and slipshod,” was given the opportunity to defend himself against the “wasted costs” order, but was denied by a judge according to the defense firm Ralli Solicitors.

There will still be a Solicitor’s Disciplinary Tribunal review for Crossley sometime later this year, but if today’s decision is any indication Crossley could have his legal privileges permanently suspended. I guess that’s what happens when you demand settlements from clearly innocent people.