File sharing accusations from Tilly Bailey IrvineThird law firm issues file-sharing letters

03 March 2010


The government plans to crack down harder people illegally sharing files online.

A third law firm is contacting consumers with letters making accusations of illegal file sharing. The letters threaten legal action unless recipients' agree to £700 in compensation.

Which? has been contacted by a number of people who have received these letters accusing them of illegally file-sharing pornographic material copyrighted by Golden Eye (International) Limited. 

The letters, sent by Tilly Bailey & Irvine LLP (TBI Solicitors), take a similar tone to those previously issued by ACS Law. Copies of the letter sent to us by one Which? reader states: 'In the event that payment or undertakings are not received within fourteen days of the date of this letter, we are instructed to commence proceedings without further notice.'

The letter requests £700 in damages and costs.

Have you received a letter accusing you of illegal file-sharing? Read our advice on how to respond to file sharing accusations

File sharing letters have 'bullying' tone say recipients

To date, we've heard from three people who have received the letters from TBI Solicitors. Due to the nature of the material all three wish to remain anonymous but say that they feel they are being bullied by TBI into entering into a settlement.

All deny the copyright infringement allegations but fear prohibitive legal costs if they tried to defend themselves in court. It costs approximately £75,000 to defend these claims in the civil courts.

They are also worried that there is no way of guaranteeing that they will not be wrongly accused again in the future.

Number of file sharing letters is unknown

TBI Solicitors refused to reveal just how many letters were being sent out to consumers, or when the letter-writing campaign began. 

However, Martin Levinson, head of commercial for TBI Solicitors, did say: 'We are currently acting for a number of clients who have instructed us to protect their intellectual property rights in relation to certain films to which they own the copyright.

'We have written to a number of persons who we understand, following enquiries of an internet service provider, have unlawfully downloaded our clients’ material.'

The firm of solicitors is carrying out the work on behalf of its client Golden Eye (International) Limited. Which? understands that it is also undertaking work of a similar nature on behalf of Media & More GmBH & Co.

Tilly Bailey & Irvine denies 'bullying' allegations

Deborah Prince, Which?’s head of legal said: 'To have a third law firm involved in making what seem to be incorrect allegations against some consumers just proves to us that it’s urgent the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) conclude their investigation into Davenport Lyons at the earliest opportunity. 

Which? thinks it’s unacceptable that its taken so long. It shows that the SRA is incapable of acting swiftly to curb poor conduct, and, more worryingly, it has not prevented other law firms from jumping on the bandwagon in the meantime.'

TBI Solicitors denies it is using heavy-handed tactics. 'We vehemently deny any allegations that our letters are bullying or heavy-handed. We endeavour to ensure that the letters comply with the Code of Practice for Pre-Action Conduct in Intellectual Property Disputes (January 2004),' said Levinson. 

He added: 'We are currently liaising with the SRA and we are satisfied that we have acted appropriately at all times in relation to these claims,' he added.

TBI's activity follows on in the footsteps of Davenport Lyons and ACS: Law. Davenport Lyons became engaged in the mass pursuit of alleged illegal file-sharers in 2007, followed ACS Law in 2009.

In December 2008, Which? accused Davenport Lyons of engaging in 'bullying' and 'excessive' practice and asked the SRA to investigate the firm’s conduct. The SRA has yet to conclude its investigation into the complaint 15 months on.

Which? has forwarded a copy of the new TBI letter to the SRA. 

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