'File sharing' solicitors face disciplinary bodyHearing expected to last seven days

31 May 2011

The scales of justice held up

A former and existing partner of law firm Davenport Lyons are standing before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) today.

Equity partner David Gore and former intellectual property partner Brian Miller will face the tribunal over a number of allegations.

One of which is that the two acted in a way that was ‘likely to diminish the trust the public place in them or in the legal profession’.

And that they ‘used their position as solicitors to take or attempt to take unfair advantage of other persons being recipients of letters of claim either for their own benefit or for the benefit of their clients’.

If you'd like to know more about file sharing, take a look at our Which? guide - find out what file sharing is and the types of files you can share legally.

Between 2006 and 2009 David Gore and Brian Miller were responsible for the sending of thousands of letters to internet users accusing them of allegedly downloading and distributing copyright-protected material via peer-to-peer networks.

The letters then asked the recipients to pay approximately £500 in compensation in order to avoid legal proceedings.

In December 2008, Which? lodged a complaint with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), saying that the letters sent out by the two were ‘bullying’.

Which? also said the letters made incorrect assertions about the nature of copyright infringement; ignored the evidence presented in defence; and increased the level of compensation claimed over the period of correspondence.

The letters stated, incorrectly, that failing to properly secure an internet connection was grounds for legal action, Which? said.

In March last year, after investigating the matter, the SRA ruled there was a case to answer and referred the two to the tribunal. The hearing is expected to last seven days.

Which? says

Deborah Prince, Head of Which? In-house Legal said: ‘Which? has been questioning the basis of these allegations for several years now. 

'We hope that the SDT thoroughly investigates this issue and if the claims against these lawyers are upheld, a strong message is sent to the legal profession about the way consumers must be treated.’

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