In the latest development in the ongoing saga of the file-sharing cases described in a previous post on this blog as "bullying, copyright trolling, public opinion blunder or what you will", the Solicitors Regulatory Authority has issued fines and costs totalling nearly £200,000 against two lawyers formerly of the firm Davenport Lyons.
The SRA report is worth setting out in full.
Davenport Lyons: Greed clouds judgement and results in £20K fine
Six thousand letters demanding compensation sent on behalf of clients to alleged unlawful file sharers led to a hefty fine at a recent Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) hearing for solicitors David Gore and Brian Miller from law firm Davenport Lyons.
The SDT found all six allegations proven and fined both men £20,000, awarding interim costs to the SRA of £150,000, with.full costs still subject to a detailed assessment.
The letters the solicitors sent out demanded compensation and costs, and warned that recipients faced further action and increased costs if the matter was not settled as a matter of urgency.
The SRA's investigation revealed that the concerns of those who had received letters and protested their innocence were ignored. The SDT found, in effect, that Mr Miller and Mr Gore became too concerned about making the scheme profitable for themselves and their firm. Their judgement became distorted, and they pursued the scheme regardless of the impact on the people receiving the letters—and even of their own clients.
An SRA spokesperson said: "We welcome the decision of the SDT, which follows a lengthy and complex investigation by members of SRA staff.
"Some of those affected were vulnerable members of the public. There was significant distress. We are pleased that this matter has been brought to a conclusion and hope that it serves as a warning to others.
"Solicitors have a duty to act with integrity, independence and in the best interests of their clients. Solicitors who breach those duties can expect to face action by the SRA."