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UK File-Sharing Lawyers ACS:Law Shut Up Shop Ahead of Court

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the oh-your-honor-don't-you-know-a-joke? dept.

Piracy 76

nk497 writes "Controversial legal firm ACS Law and its sole file-sharing client Media CAT have shut down their businesses, days before a ruling is due in a case they brought to the UK Patent Court. ACS Law is infamous for sending out letters to alleged illegal file sharers, demanding payment and threatening law suits. Now that ACS has a case before a judge, it's trying to drop the cases, and has now completely closed its doors. The defendants' lawyers are trying to keep the case going, in order to be able to claim back costs." That sounds right in line with other recent ACS happenings, from getting upbraided by a judge to being blacklisted by an ISP, and even putting the brakes on the file-sharing cases themselves.

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76 comments

The slippery bastards (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35110248)

They'll be back under a new name in no time. Immoral scum of the earth. The lawyers concerned should be disbarred, but that won't ever happen, because judges are just lawyers who got a promotion, and they look after their own.

Re:The slippery bastards (5, Insightful)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110266)

> and they look after their own.

If they believe the conduct of these lawyers will be publicized enough to reflect on their own reputation or the reputation of the legal system itself, there is a chance they'll sanction / disbar them anyway.

Re:The slippery bastards (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110714)

I don't know about the 'reputation' of the legal system in the UK, but here in the US it's so tarnished there isn't much to reflect any more. I guess I could say the same thing about most of our press, too.

Re:The slippery bastards (3, Interesting)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110744)

Unfortunately in the US you can't get much lower than your legal system. In the UK there's still the idea that the law protects citizens, not enables business to harm citizens.

Even here in Australia the courts are very careful not to ruin the credibility of the courts as this would deteriorate people's perception of law. I have a feeling ACS:Law bit off more than they could chew and realise they'd lose the cases. I just feel sad for the people who freaked out and paid up.

Re:The slippery bastards (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#35125240)

Our UK courts have a poor reputation, but undeservedly so. Every time any decision is made on the grounds of human rights, EU derived law or to the (slight) benefit of a criminal/bad guy the press goes nuts with it. Tens of thousands of words are spewed forth, but none that explain the decision in any kind of rational way.

Re:The slippery bastards (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35111842)

lawyers, politicians, cops. not much difference: mostly sociopaths with power and a motivation to keep going in that direction no matter what.

authority figures deserve zero respect in america, so there's no 'reputation' to uphold anymore. and in fact, I bet they're GLAD this sham is over. they can really stretch out and 'exercise' their wills without caring.

authority and people in position of power have lost any moral high ground. its a very slow road to repair, too, but no one is even ON that road anymore.

I guess we get the society we built and allowed to build.

Re:The slippery bastards (5, Informative)

Spad (470073) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110312)

I don't know, the judge in this case seemed pretty pissed off at the way ACS:Law have been behaving and their attempts to drop cases and close their business aren't going to help endear them to him.

Bear in mind that they're also being investigated by pretty much every legal regulatory body and consumer protection organisation in the UK, not just as ACS:Law but also Andrew Crossley himself, so there's still a good chance they won't get away with it.

Re:The slippery bastards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35110348)

Even if Andrew Crossley somehow did get some form of punishment for his actions, which I am still not convinced will happen, it would be the exception that proved the rule - most lawyers can merrily go about ruining people's lives with impunity. I believe the same is true in the US?

Re:The slippery bastards (1)

Custard Horse (1527495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110684)

The Solicitors Regulation Authority are already on the case. He will be feeling very hot under the collar for a while. I would be very surprised is he doesn't get struck off.

Re:The slippery bastards (5, Interesting)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110548)

I'm inclined to agree, the judge in question is not exactly inexperienced and is a specialist in the area. They are in fact "Specialist Circuit Judge, Judge of the Patents County Court and Chairman of the Copyright Tribunal Appointments", they're also a QC.

I get the feeling, from what I've read, that he is distinctly unimpressed and has little interest in allowing them get out judicial oversight; he's actually quoted as saying, "I want to tell you that I am not happy. I am getting the impression with every twist and turn since I started looking at these cases that there is a desire to avoid any judicial scrutiny,"

Re:The slippery bastards (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110904)

The problem is that this isn't a legal maneuver to avoid the judge, this is to avoid any judgments against them being collectible (since the business will no longer exist, they'll claim it's bankrupt, and legally separate from the lawyers themselves).

Re:The slippery bastards (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110994)

they'll claim it's bankrupt, and legally separate from the lawyers themselves),

How amenable are US courts to the counter-claim that the firm was set up solely for that purpose? I was under the impression that judges could sometimes set aside "legal fiction".

Re:The slippery bastards (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35112116)

I don't think lawyers are permitted to incorporate in the US. The general partners of a law firm have full liability for all debts of the firm.

Re:The slippery bastards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35111396)

Note that in theory they could get priority access to anything that is part of the bankruptcy, and in extreme cases there is always the possibility of personal liability.
Not that it is even remotely likely.

Re:The slippery bastards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35113948)

Except thats illegal (at least in the U.S.). You can't form a shell company, use it as a front for (possibly) illegal activities and then avoid legal action by simply liquidating.

The car analogy would be getting into a hit-and-run car accident, having the car destroyed and then denying responsibility of the accident because the car doesn't exist anymore.

Re:The slippery bastards (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#35125258)

You could still win costs in Small Claims Court quite easily.

Re:The slippery bastards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35155834)

I didn't think law firms could do that. My sister was a senior partner in a law firm and part of accepting the position included becoming jointly liable (along with the other senior partners) for the company's finances. I would have thought that if there was a way to avoid personal liability for the company's debts they would have done it.

Re:The slippery bastards (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35112214)

They are all variously being sued for harassment, so even if they manage to avoid censure by the judge (and there is talk that the defendants may be awarded damages), it's quite possible that even saying "Screw you guys, I'm going home!" will be insufficient. I think a lawsuit against Crossley and his pals and associates has a fairly good chance of succeeding, so I'd say that, for once, the bad guys may actually get what's coming to them.

Re:The slippery bastards (1)

SnickleFritz (17110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110338)

> and they look after their own.

Gotta be more specific. Trial lawyers love eating their own. Copyright lawyers love the low hanging meat someone is smoking / drying. Patent lawyers love eating things that are at least 10x bigger than themselves. Tax lawyers eat anything they want. Personal injury lawyers love eating the chewed off legs left in traps.

Re:The slippery bastards (3, Informative)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110710)

> and they look after their own.

Gotta be more specific. Trial lawyers love eating their own. Copyright lawyers love the low hanging meat someone is smoking / drying. Patent lawyers love eating things that are at least 10x bigger than themselves. Tax lawyers eat anything they want. Personal injury lawyers love eating the chewed off legs left in traps.

Gee, thanks. With all this talk about eating it seems I'm hungry again.

Re:The slippery bastards (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110388)

I'm not so sure. Consumer protection laws are pretty strong in the UK (I think one of the reasons why prices are often higher here than elsewhere) and it's very rare for firms to get away with widespread abuse like this. About the only area where companies manage to scam is in the area of telephone cold-calling (which is usually illegal) and that's only because privacy laws make it very hard to find out who made a call.

Re:The slippery bastards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35112510)

It has nothing to do with privacy laws and everything to do with the companies outsourcing their telemarketing to overseas companies who aren't bound by UK law.

Re:The slippery bastards (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110422)

Well, we can at least see it as a victory. ACS:Law -TNG is probably not going to try such sleazy tactics and neither will any of the other legal firms since they clearly don't work.

Re:The slippery bastards (2)

Mistlefoot (636417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35111272)

So can someone "incorporate" a business, pay the $100 yearly fee that your city charges......and then put up a webpage reviewing movies and music, all the while downloading the content via torrents? If you get "caught" with any pirated material you can just close the business and be on with your life. The Corporation did it........not you........

As long as you didn't make much money you could use their strategy of self protection to protect yourself and your $100 a year licence from the city to pirate all day, every day?

Re:The slippery bastards (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35113592)

Not quite.

You may end up (at least in the UK) as listed on the prohibition list to form a company. In fact, that is pretty much a standard measure if the judge has decided that you have bent the law in any way to avoid your responsibilities. If the company cannot pay its liabilities (which will be the case here) it is a given that this measure will be used as a part of the bankruptcy proceedings.

So for starters this means that you will do this only once. After that you will be barred from forming a company for a few years.

That is not where it ends. A court decision barring you from being a director of a company will show up on any background search and results in an automatic drop of any job offer. So you can forget about getting a job if you ever do it.

Re:The slippery bastards (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#35125300)

That is the theory. In reality many people go the bankruptcy route to clear their company's debts. I know people who have done it, they fold the company and get a friend to register a new one with the same address and staff which then buys the assets of the old one. The previous director becomes a top level employee until he can be a director again.

For that reason suppliers started blacklisting addresses over a decade ago. Since the new company usually has the same office/shop/factory it is safer to do it that way.

The new company will have problems finding suppliers and getting credit, but usually not bad enough to stop them wanting to write off large debts.

Re:The slippery bastards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35112246)

and they look after their own

But who is more critical than a peer? At my job, people in other departments don't know where to look for mistakes in my department, but my co-workers in my department definitely know when something's off and call each other out on it.

Re:The slippery bastards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35115066)

The lawyers concerned should be disbarred

no, they should be disembowed

When does this end? (2)

puterg33k (1920022) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110258)

I think the strong arm of the Goverment should protect against this, not promote it... Any thoughts?

Re:When does this end? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35110334)

I haven't read the letters in question (anyone have a link?). But over here in ZA, it might.

Most magistrates would shout you out of 'their' court if informed that you've been using 'their' court to intimidate people. Sending a "Do as I say or I'll sue you!" can end badly.

The Playing Victim Pattern (5, Insightful)

eddy (18759) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110272)

I see a pattern wrt fraudsters who go out and tell the press that they suddenly fear for their very lives from the people they've previously felt so good about extorting. This guy is doing it, and Darl McBride was doing it. Same pattern. Both use hyperbole without evidence, and they never contact the authorities, just the press. A press who then, disgustingly, report what the scumbags said verbatim without reflection.

Re:The Playing Victim Pattern (4, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110318)

Well to be fair, who would have thought that making essentially unfounded legal threats against people, trying to extort money from them and threatening to "expose" their alleged "illegal" porn downloading in the hope that they'll choose a cash settlement over having their life ruined would upset people in any way?

Re:The Playing Victim Pattern (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110740)

Well to be fair, who would have thought that making essentially unfounded legal threats against people, trying to extort money from them and threatening to "expose" their alleged "illegal" porn downloading in the hope that they'll choose a cash settlement over having their life ruined would upset people in any way?

Extortion and blackmail make people cranky? Who knew?? ACS were acting like bullies and now they're running away with their tail between their legs because some people are standing up to them. Karma is a pendulum of vengeance and it's swinging back in ACS's direction. Let's hope they get what's coming to them (legally, of course, because good citizens would never suggest scoundrels meet with violence).

Re:The Playing Victim Pattern (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110988)

It's a basic flaw in the criminal mind. The ones who view their position as lawyers or politicians as a liscence to abuse somebody always seem to think the system they are also abusing will protect them forever. They assume everyone with power plays as dirty as they do, and the people they target can't do anything because they don't have the same level of access to that particular source of power. They don't seem to notice that their are any other sorts of power out there until the mob with pitchforks leads them to the guillotine.
          The biggest single flaw in the American political process is there are a lot of people who are honest or at least semi-honest, who have power, but don't realise just how close they are to a major eruption from the body politic because they have been ignorant of, or willing to ignore, the actions of the most corrupt among them. If America descends to actual mass attacks on the system, such as those we are seeing in Mexico , it will be because the flat out crooks, normally no more than 5% or so of the total, climbed to 10 or 15% before it was trimmed back, and probably 50% or more of the payback incidents will be badly targeted. It will be impossible in many cases to tell when some judge or politician is being shot by a person who was genuinely screwed over by the legal system and when it's just some nut dissatisfied that his wife won the divorce case.

Re:The Playing Victim Pattern (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35112694)

Well, to be fair, the U.S. educational system has been so thoroughly compromised in so many ways as to promote ignorance. After all, the ignorant are so much easier for the power elite to control, aren't they? The less people know, the less you have to hide.

Re:The Playing Victim Pattern (1)

celle (906675) | more than 3 years ago | (#35114262)

"...good citizens would never suggest scoundrels meet with violence)."

Yea, good citizens stand, watch, and cheer inwardly(do nothing) as better citizens take action within the law(court, press) or outside the law (assassination, harassment) to end this crap.

Re:The Playing Victim Pattern (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 3 years ago | (#35111836)

Reminds me of this Monty Python skit [youtube.com] .

Re:The Playing Victim Pattern (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35110864)

Hmm, playing the victim to get press, that description sounds very much like mssr assange...

ACS Law - Abandonment of Legal Data? (1)

fibrewire (1132953) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110404)

In an effort to avoid extradition for possession of illegally obtained information, ACS Law has abandoned their data warehouse of legal filings.

HERE - http://cgi.ebay.com/130481622084 [ebay.com]

Re:ACS Law - Abandonment of Legal Data? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35110854)

Oh my god. Seeing those items on Ebay really do bring back memories.
I worked for Dec from 1978 to 1998 in the Uk. I wrote a lot of software for RSX-11M using an 11/44
Cool. It is a pity that I'm on the wrong side of the pond otherwise I'd be tempted to put in a bid.

Are they trying to hide evidence? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35110426)

Isn't that highly illegal?
Wouldn't any of us normans end up being screwed so hard for doing stuff like this?
I hope they get what is coming to them. One hell of a scummy law firm.

Next up, we get the RIAA and friends.

Re:Are they trying to hide evidence? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35111094)

well the pirates who take peoples work without paying are scum too, although idiots here regard such low lfie as heroes...

Re:Are they trying to hide evidence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35111222)

I take firefox, open office, and gimp without paying for them, am I a criminal / scumbag too [even though they are legally free] or do you want to stop being a disingenuous fuck and be specific / intellectually honest?

Re:Are they trying to hide evidence? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35111422)

Based on your reply you are probably a criminal / scumbag too - just not for using free software that is freely given away for free. You probably are a pirate scumbag criminal just looking to justify your pirate scumbag deeds by claiming if I had to pay for it I never would have used it so they are better off for having me used it even though they never got a penny from me because I wouldn't pay for it even though I wanted it bad enough to steal it.

Re:Are they trying to hide evidence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35112618)

Wow, someone is getting a scumbag boner here...

Not enough (2)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110438)

Chase them down without mercy, crush them, destroy their property with fire, raze their houses to the ground, raise piles of wood and combustibles on the grounds where their dwellings were and throw their spouses and offspring upon them, and then set them on fire. Torture them to death, slice their skin off bloody strip by bloody strip and feed them to fire ants. That for a starter, the real fun comes later.

Re:Not enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35110484)

Don't hold back Jock, just tell us want you mean.

Re:Not enough (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110512)

And I thought, my proposal to turn Microsoft employees into a river of blood flowing between hills made of crushed bones, topped by skulls of Gates and Ballmer, was extreme.

Re:Not enough (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 3 years ago | (#35111170)

It's not extreme, it's just... Creative re-decoration supported by a determined stylistic choice.

Re:Not enough (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35111430)

And I thought, my proposal to turn Microsoft employees into a river of blood flowing between hills made of crushed bones, topped by skulls of Gates and Ballmer, was extreme.

Not extreme, just not environmentally friendly enough to be given the proper consideration.

Re:Not enough (1)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | more than 3 years ago | (#35113138)

Whilst some _may_ consider the broad-reaching, unrestrained violence somewhat extreme, I'm quite sure that the recipients* of your attention would certainly appreciate the creative flourish of using Gates and Ballmers skulls in your plans^H^H^H^H^H art installation.

* Not "targets", not "victims"... no, they're "recipients"; and they should be grateful too! ;)

Re:Not enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35111262)

Bleeding heart liberal.

Re:Not enough (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 3 years ago | (#35117270)

Yeah, I'm quite liberal when it comes to make other people's hearts bleed. Usually from being punctured.

Re:Not enough (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35111786)

Can we all download a free a copy of the movie?

Apply for a grant... (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 3 years ago | (#35111910)

Chase them down without mercy, crush them, destroy their property with fire, raze their houses to the ground, raise piles of wood and combustibles on the grounds where their dwellings were and throw their spouses and offspring upon them, and then set them on fire. Torture them to death, slice their skin off bloody strip by bloody strip and feed them to fire ants. That for a starter, the real fun comes later.

I suppose you could argue that this is performance art or some other expression of artistic or cultural merit. Have you applied for funding from the appropriate UK or EU authorities? They could hardly refuse, considering some of the barbarous outfits their colleagues are propping up with our tax money. Selling the TV rights and after-market DVDs should return a tidy profit.

Re:Apply for a grant... (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 3 years ago | (#35117264)

Thanks. I shall certainly consider this option.

Re:Not enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35114022)

I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure...

Hey America (1, Interesting)

tsj5j (1159013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110662)

Hey America,

This is what it means to have an impartial judiciary body.
Try to buy your Congress and Courts back from the conglomerates, it'd do you a lot of good.

You might want to start with your supreme court:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/michaeltomasky/2011/jan/27/usdomesticpolicy-clarence-thomas-what [guardian.co.uk] ?

Oh really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35113738)

So when are your "impartial" courts going to start declaring many of your current laws that have the Brits under a boot "unconstitutional" (or whatever the UK equivalent term is)?

Re:Oh really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35117712)

There is no UK equivalent to the Constitution. Instead, we have the wonderful doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty. The only check on the power of the legislation is the EU, and the courts haven't been too bad about ruling dictatorial powers to be counter to the EU human rights act. Unfortunately there are no teeth behind those decisions, and the governments have been able to get away with literally instructing the police to *ignore* rulings about eg retaining the DNA of innocent people. It's a shitty country.

NO food shortages? just too many fat people? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35110694)

that's partially explanatory of the failures. almost nothing of any value can occur until the faulty baby care systems have been repaired. even DOing that will make us survivable. we don't need any billionaires or big bosses at all. looking forward to when the '(figure)head person' lives in a condo & the world doesn't hate US anymore/again. palaces appear so excessive, & 'security' is obviously a fairytail/can't hide from 'god'/sell more weapons scenario. i know, we just don't understand how complex everything.. blah blah.... blah. thanks, see you there?.

Re:NO food shortages? just too many fat people? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35111444)

That's an interesting take on this legal development. In your analogy, is ACS the man with the hat or the red ball that was lost by the little girl?

Speculative invoicing (2)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 3 years ago | (#35110844)

Yes, the new euphemism of the day: Speculative invoicing, a new and innovative form of blackmail.

Go ahead, shut business down -- call the bar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35110962)

The business may be shut down, but the lawyers that put forward this stuff should be pursued, perhaps with a bar disciplinary proceeding.

Countersuit ! (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35111686)

Who is running the defense? I thought a boilerplate defense move was to counter-sue the moment a quarter-serious suit was served.

The countersuit would be for fraud, or legal expenses or somesuch. Very dependant on the jurisdiction, but always to prevent the aggressors from just dismissing their own claim and retreating to fight another day when the climate was better.

Re:Countersuit ! (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35112254)

In most cases when a complainant attempts to drop the suit, the defendant(s) are only too happy to comply. Countersuits are used as a sort of a MAD-doctrine, raising the risks for the complainant. It might even have happened that way but a judge decided this was such an egregious abuse of the system that he decided to openly ponder not in fact letting Crossley and Co. kill their own lawsuits. At that point, the whole thing just started collapsing. Now they're trying to kill the company itself in the hopes of evading being forced to pay damages, though I doubt it will work.

Re:Countersuit ! (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#35112266)

That may happen, but fraud cases are not heard in the patent court.

Re:Countersuit ! (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35113712)

You are missing the point

The suits were not quarter-serious.The business model was - threaten to sue, serve papers and move to withdraw if the defendant shows up.

Works a treat. If the defendant does not show up you in the English court system you win by default (that is not necessarily the case elsewhere). If the defendant shows up you withdraw the suit so you pay the nominal fee for filing, the fee for withdrawal and you turn a tidy profit.

That is a model which has been used for a long time by various other dubious outfits mostly operating various "collection" services on behalf of clampers, etc. It worked because it was done mostly in small claims court and with a different magistrate every time. There they do not even bother to withdraw. They just do not show up so you win by default. As it is a small claims court no single case creates a precedent so they can do it again and again.

ACS Law tried this for bigger money in proper court. Bad Move(TM). The judge provided them with a very unpleasant surprise by disallowing the withdrawal. If they lose they pay, possibly pay legal expenses for the other party and a precedent is created which blows the model out of the water. Their only retreat route here was to fold the company which is exactly what they did.

Re:Countersuit ! (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 3 years ago | (#35116948)

ACS Law tried this for bigger money in proper court. Bad Move(TM). The judge provided them with a very unpleasant surprise by disallowing the withdrawal. If they lose they pay, possibly pay legal expenses for the other party and a precedent is created which blows the model out of the water. Their only retreat route here was to fold the company which is exactly what they did.

First off, it's the UK so there's a presumption in favour of the losing party "making good" the losses from the court case itself of the winner; costs are normally awarded. (Formally, it's in the power of the judge to decide in equity, so if the other side has outrageous or disproportionate costs, the level of costs awarded might be well short of their actual level, making the victory a distinctly pyrrhic one. This is an area where the UK and the US have diverged.)

Secondly, folding the company might not save it. Judges don't like people who screw around with them or blatantly misuse the law, and court fines and fees are one of the more protected classes when it comes to bankruptcy. (Not as much as the taxman IIRC, but even so.) Moreover, if it's not a limited liability company (the case with many law firms for tax reasons) it's the owner(s) that's in trouble as they're personally liable. Oh dear! :-)

Re:Countersuit ! (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#35118666)

ACS:Law is a sole trader, not a company, so it can't be folded. The only way out would be for Andrew Crossley to personally file for bankruptcy.

Re:Countersuit ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35128964)

ACS:Law is a sole trader, not a company, so it can't be folded. The only way out would be for Andrew Crossley to personally file for bankruptcy.

Or to "do the honorable thing".

Re:Countersuit ! (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#35118638)

If the defendant doesn't show up, you don't win by default. The judge decides the case based only on the claimant's evidence, and they do sometimes still lose, as ACS:Law did in some of these cases.

In England, the small claims procedure is overseen by district judges, not magistrates. Magistrates hear criminal cases which attract a sentence of less than 6 months in prison.

The ACS:Law cases were heard in a "proper" court, not because the money involved was large, but because they were copyright cases, which are not eligible for the small claims procedure.

Liability is not extinguished (1)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 3 years ago | (#35113850)

I'm no lawyer, but having been the officer of two corporations I take a personal interest in how such officers may be exposed to liability through actions against the corporations. To quote the local statute:

Duties of directors and officers

142 (1) A director or officer of a company, when exercising the powers and performing the functions of a director or officer of the company, as the case may be, must

(a) act honestly and in good faith with a view to the best interests of the company,

(b) exercise the care, diligence and skill that a reasonably prudent individual would exercise in comparable circumstances,

(c) act in accordance with this Act and the regulations, and

(d) subject to paragraphs (a) to (c), act in accordance with the memorandum and articles of the company.

...

The courts can go after the officers even after the corporation is long gone. And while it's common for corporations to carry insurance to protect officers acting in good faith, that protection certainly does not extend to unlawful acts.

Re:Liability is not extinguished (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35115500)

Except that, from what I read elsewhere, this guy never got around to register as a Linited Company so all liabilities are his own.

I need a car analogy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35116764)

I'm not good at legalese, someone liken this to a car.

we'll get ya punk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35117022)

Maybe someone should get a hold of Andrew Crossley and gave him fixed position concrete wellies (just the feet will do ) so he can be dragged thru payback time in full public glory .

Whats the betting he was THE owner of the Porn film business as well but via the back door

 

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