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Firm Threatens To Sue Consumer Websites For Harrassment

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the sticks-and-stones dept.

Censorship 105

An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports that RLP, a legal firm that sues shoplifters on behalf of retail groups, has shown its ignorance of the Streisand Effect by attempting to censor The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and other consumer websites. RLP has accused CAB of harassment and is demanding that they and other consumer websites remove all 'defamatory posts' and publications. This is the latest salvo in a long running battle and although organizations like CAG (Consumer Action Group) have removed some offending posts, CAB and the Legal Beagles website are refusing to remove content and have accused RLP of trying to stifle reporting of adverse court judgments against them."

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105 comments

Fuck em (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40477165)

Fuck em

Re:Fuck em (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40477183)

What a waste of a perfectly good "piss frost!"

Re:Fuck em (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40477207)

You are just jealous it wasn't you being fucked

Re:Fuck em (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40477235)

Fuck em

What a waste of a perfectly good "piss frost!"

You are just jealous it wasn't you being fucked

And this ladies and gentlemen is why anon posters start at score:0.

Re:Fuck em (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40477275)

oh FUCK YOU steve...

Re:Fuck em (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40477587)

Fuck em

What a waste of a perfectly good "piss frost!"

You are just jealous it wasn't you being fucked

And this ladies and gentlemen is why anon posters start at score:0.

Thank you Captain Obvious.

Re:Fuck em (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40477915)

True, true. This is /. after all.

What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (-1)

dimeglio (456244) | about 2 years ago | (#40477223)

It looks like this is just a bunch of shoplifters who retaliated on-line to being sued.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (5, Informative)

ommerson (1485487) | about 2 years ago | (#40477305)

The business model of these companies is particularly pernicious, and relies in the main on the defendants being uninformed and under-resourced.

THe company in question here is actually chasing employees of the Citizens' Advice Bureau - the place where these defendants go for help - often because they can't afford a lawyer.

This is a similar strategy to that used by ACS:Law - which has already felt the wrath of the professional regulator for precisely this kind of tactic. It's quite likely that, as suggested, that they sent a few threats too far.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40477339)

Well, there could be plenty wrong with it if it's handled improperly. For instance, suing people civilly after they've been let off criminally because the evidence was sketchy. TFA mentions a particular case where "RLP's client lost and the judge criticised the legal basis of its case". It also mentions the judge thought they were asking for too much money (though it was only for £137.50, which, even if they only stole a £5 item, doesn't really seem like much when you consider time, legal fees, and punitive damages...though I'm not familiar with UK law)

"punitive damages" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40477521)

I don't think "punitive damages" exist outside the USA. (It's a stupid concept: if people need to be punished they should be punished with a fine, paid to the state, after a criminal trial.)

Re:"punitive damages" (4, Informative)

Cyclizine (2558090) | about 2 years ago | (#40477747)

I don't think "punitive damages" exist outside the USA. (It's a stupid concept: if people need to be punished they should be punished with a fine, paid to the state, after a criminal trial.)

Correct. No punitive damages under England and Wales or Scots law.

Re:"punitive damages" (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#40491675)

What is really offensive is that (using OP's figures) the lawyers receive GBP132.50 "costs" for recovering GBP5.00 from the shoplifter. This is simply inequitable.

Re:"punitive damages" (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 2 years ago | (#40478739)

If people need to be punished it should NEVER be a fine.
A fine is not justice.
A $200,000 fine to most people would completely destroy them. $200,000 is just the cost of doing business to a corp or a mega rich person.
Justice would come from time. Community service or Jail.

Re:"punitive damages" (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#40487437)

Punitive damages are an effective way to deal with very rich people or corporations in law suits. Some other countries have the concept of a fine that varies according to the income of the person involved. In the US a lawsuit allows for recovery of damages which does not depend upon the ability of the defendant to pay.

We have had corporations in the US that just budgeted a certain amount of money to pay for lawsuits that came up due to safety issues, rather than actually fixing the problems. In other words a lawsuit would have been just another ordinary cost of business to them, not even a slap on the wrist. However because it was proven in the cases that they knew there were safety issues and made no attempt to fix these problems, a punitive damage was added to act as a deterrent to further wrong doing. The companies would likely never have changed the egregious behavior without this.

As lawsuits go you don't get jailed for them. This is civil law and not criminal law. And corporations of course can't be jailed. So this is where punitive damages come in as the only possible punishment for corporations. I suppose you could argue that if there's a case to be made for punitive damages during a civil case that there should be enough evidence to have a criminal proceding except that criminal cases are much harder to prosecute and provide no recovery of damages to the victims.

Re:"punitive damages" (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 2 years ago | (#40487851)

The problem is that people think you can not jail a corporation. You can.
One year in prison means that the corporation must cease all income generating activities for one year.
Lay off all employees that are not support. Then they must continue to do their 0 cost support until their sentence has been served or they go bankrupt.
Easy.

Re:"punitive damages" (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 2 years ago | (#40489061)

or simpy freeze or devest them of there assets depending on the sevarity and jail all of those involved with prison time prepositional to their responsibility and involvement in what ever the incident is/was

Re:"punitive damages" (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#40489189)

Possibly but I don't know of any places that implement this in their laws.

Plus we're talking about civil suits instead of criminal cases.

Re:"punitive damages" (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#40491683)

The problem is that people think you can not jail a corporation. You can. One year in prison means that the corporation must cease all income generating activities for one year. Lay off all employees that are not support. Then they must continue to do their 0 cost support until their sentence has been served or they go bankrupt. Easy.

Has that ever actually been done, anywhere in the world?

Re:"punitive damages" (1)

Boscrossos (997520) | about 2 years ago | (#40492749)

Or, much simpler, jail their head representatives in the country. This can actually be done. To give an example, in Belgian health&safety legislation, the CEO of a company is directly responsible, under criminal law, for the safety of his employees. He has well defined duties which he must perform, and if he doesn't, and a work accident occurs that can be traced back to this, then the CEO faces jail time and a fine. Believe me, all CEO's who are aware of this fact are very concious of safety issues within their company, and quite willing to listen when their safety advisor proposes measures.

Re:"punitive damages" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40489813)

If it makes you feel better, some monetary awards in civil lawsuits may be considered as taxable income. If I remember correctly (doubtful) , awards to pay for loss of property, income, doctor bills, etc. are considered to be repalcing a 'loss' and are less likely to be taxable than awards for non-economic factors like punitive awards. There are often tax and public benefit consequences for how a settlement in a tort is paid out. I just read in a malpractice insurance company's newletter today where a plaintiff opted for a structured settlement, paid out yearly or monthly amounts, rather than a lump sum payment. If he had accepted a lump sum he would have lost eligibility for his state's welfare and Medicaide (or other state health insurance) simply for having too much cash assests. BTW. this person is totally disabled.

IANAL, although I do own a tweed coat.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

julesh (229690) | about 2 years ago | (#40483227)

It also mentions the judge thought they were asking for too much money (though it was only for £137.50, which, even if they only stole a £5 item, doesn't really seem like much when you consider time, legal fees, and punitive damages...though I'm not familiar with UK law)

This wasn't for legal fees. At least some of the threads are still on the CAG web site, and the most relevant one is this one [consumerac...roup.co.uk]. They were after £137.50 + £115 legal costs.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (4, Informative)

realxmp (518717) | about 2 years ago | (#40477353)

It looks like this is just a bunch of shoplifters who retaliated on-line to being sued.

This isn't about the shoplifters at all. This is the Citizens Advice Bureaux who are a non-profit legal advice service over here in Britain. They basically provide legal advice to folks about civil law, debt, and similar stuff. Essentially there are open legal questions about whether the actual damages in RLP cases are as big as RLP claim they should be.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (4, Informative)

ommerson (1485487) | about 2 years ago | (#40477479)

In fact, a judge has already thrown a case that did go to court out on the grounds that it was unclear why the damages were set at the level claimed or that they were in any way proportionate to actual damage.

The retailers (usually big supermarkets) are attempting to recover the entire costs of their losses to shoplifting and extra security from those they catch.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40477553)

That last bit doesn't seem too unreasonable. Assuming that the show tries its best to catch all the shoplifters it can, it makes sense that if you steal something and the chance you'll get caught is 50% say, you'll have to pay twice the price. And you'll have to add in security costs as well, since otherwise it will come out of the pockets of actual paying customers. Boo-hoo all you want, but what is not paid by the thieves, is paid by us.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (3, Insightful)

AlecC (512609) | about 2 years ago | (#40477651)

Except that they catch probably 1% of all shoplifters, so that the single miscreant would get fined 100 times the cost of what they stole, which seems to deny equity. And the store has only to catch a single shoplifter to claim back the millions they lose to all shoplifters all across the country. Not condoning shoplifting, but people should be punished for their own crimes, not for those of others,

It is estimated that 10% of driver speed on the motorway, So catch one speeder and fine him for the 2 million or so others you haven't caught. Justice?

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (2, Interesting)

6031769 (829845) | about 2 years ago | (#40477977)

Except that they catch probably 1% of all shoplifters, so that the single miscreant would get fined 100 times the cost of what they stole, which seems to deny equity.

That would be a valid point if shoplifting were just a harmless passtime. However, since it's a crime why not fine them 100 times the cost of what they stole? It might teach them not to do it again. If they only get fined what they steal that's precisely the same as them paying for it at the checkout but with the added bonus that they might well get away with it.

If you can't do the time (or don't want to pay the fine), don't do the crime.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (3, Interesting)

AlecC (512609) | about 2 years ago | (#40478169)

So the punishment for a crime depends not on what you did, but on what others did? If you stole a candy bar, you should be punished for the unknown person who stole a diamond necklace?

I agree about do the crime/do the time. But for your crimes, not someone else's. If it is right to fine someone 100 times the value for shoplifting, it is right whether they are the only shoplifter in town or one of a thousand. Making any punishment depend upon how many others are doing it is unfair.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478651)

So the punishment for a crime depends not on what you did, but on what others did? If you stole a candy bar, you should be punished for the unknown person who stole a diamond necklace?

I agree about do the crime/do the time. But for your crimes, not someone else's. If it is right to fine someone 100 times the value for shoplifting, it is right whether they are the only shoplifter in town or one of a thousand. Making any punishment depend upon how many others are doing it is unfair.

Taking product from a store without paying for it is unfair too. So boo hoo Mr. Thief. You wanted unfair, you got it. I have no problem making people collectively responsible for the collective activities they participate in.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (4, Interesting)

AlecC (512609) | about 2 years ago | (#40478859)

"The punishment should fit the crime". Yes, life is unfair. The whole point of the justice system is to try and bring some fairness to it. If the justice system is perceived as unfair, it loses all legitimacy. The whole point of having prosecution and defence attorneys, juries, rules of evidence etc. is seen to be scrupulously fair. If you then say, basically, that punishment is a lottery: it depends not on what you did, but on what others you know nothing about did, you undermine the whole principle of justice.

And shoplifting is not a collective action: people usually do it individually. If people work as teams, perhaps distracting assistants while an accomplice steals, that is collective action and both should be punished for the crime, But collective punishments generally are regarded as uncivilised and (inter alias) banned by the Geneva Convention.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40480335)

don't see what the Geneva Convention has to do with this, it only applies in times of war.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

AlecC (512609) | about 2 years ago | (#40480669)

Just an example of what is regarded as minimum civilised behaviour.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (3, Insightful)

cc_pirate (82470) | about 2 years ago | (#40480777)

So the punishment for a crime depends not on what you did, but on what others did? If you stole a candy bar, you should be punished for the unknown person who stole a diamond necklace?

I agree about do the crime/do the time. But for your crimes, not someone else's. If it is right to fine someone 100 times the value for shoplifting, it is right whether they are the only shoplifter in town or one of a thousand. Making any punishment depend upon how many others are doing it is unfair.

Taking product from a store without paying for it is unfair too. So boo hoo Mr. Thief. You wanted unfair, you got it. I have no problem making people collectively responsible for the collective activities they participate in.

Then you are an idiot with poor logic. Think decimation (killing of 1 in 10 for actions by the legions members) by the Roman army was a reasonable response? How about the collective punishment of the Jews in the Holocaust? Almost by definition, collective punishment is unfair since the degree of damage done by each individual is significantly different in most cases. I agree that punishment must be sufficiently harsh to be a deterrent, but making it collective is going too far.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#40478349)

That would be a valid point if shoplifting were just a harmless passtime. However, since it's a crime why not fine them 100 times the cost of what they stole? It might teach them not to do it again. If they only get fined what they steal that's precisely the same as them paying for it at the checkout but with the added bonus that they might well get away with it.

If you can't do the time (or don't want to pay the fine), don't do the crime.

RIAA shill?

Probably not, but then again...

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (3, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | about 2 years ago | (#40478669)

This isn't the court system fining people, this is a private organisation issuing rude letters.

Private organisations don't have the ability to fine people under UK law.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

6031769 (829845) | about 2 years ago | (#40478921)

Indeed they do not, but they can sue for breach of contract. If the shop has in their terms that people who take their goods without paying for them at the till will subsequently be charged 100 times the marked price then that is what should happen. If the customers (and for shoplifters I'm using the term very loosely here) don't like those terms they can "shop" elsewhere. If the shoplifters are not penalised heavily enough to pay for all the shop's extra security measures and losses through thievery then who does? It's the law-abiding customers who do pay for their goods who end up having to pay the extra. Where's the equity in that?

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40479093)

err Id guess that by never paying for the item you haven't agreed to the shops terms? Hence theft is a crime and not civil / contract law?

Other wise by reading this post you owe me the equivalent of $10,000,000 in whatever your local currency is.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

6031769 (829845) | about 2 years ago | (#40479249)

The shop is private property, so it could always be a condition of entry.

IANAL, but I suspect that the terms apply to the "offer to treat" or whatever it is called - that's when the contract is made. Payment is simply settling. Hopefully a legal eagle will be able to correct me on this.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

russotto (537200) | about 2 years ago | (#40479403)

IANAL, but I suspect that the terms apply to the "offer to treat" or whatever it is called - that's when the contract is made. Payment is simply settling. Hopefully a legal eagle will be able to correct me on this.

An invitation to treat isn't a contract.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#40494817)

IANAL, but I suspect that the terms apply to the "offer to treat" or whatever it is called - that's when the contract is made. Payment is simply settling. Hopefully a legal eagle will be able to correct me on this.

An invitation to treat isn't a contract.

When you buy something from a shop, you make an offer to treat by going to the till and offering the shop money for the item. The contract is agreed when they take your money.

There is no contract involved between a shoplifter and the shop he steals from.

I'm not sure, but I think the US libertarians here are confused because they think that all legal issues boil down to contract law.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

residieu (577863) | about 2 years ago | (#40485625)

I imagine your customers will get a bit annoyed if your great them at the door and ask them to sign a contract.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

jimicus (737525) | about 2 years ago | (#40479457)

If the shop has in their terms that people who take their goods without paying for them at the till will subsequently be charged 100 times the marked price then that is what should happen.

Nope, won't work. You can't sue for punitive damages in the UK, and you can't skirt around that by inventing terms & conditions that pretend it's not punitive.

(IANAL, so take this with as much salt as you think it needs).

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

paulmac84 (682014) | about 2 years ago | (#40480755)

What contract? How the hell do you form a contract with someone that is stealing from you? You're talking out of your arse.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

davydagger (2566757) | about 2 years ago | (#40478725)

because its unreasonable, thats why!

Just like the woman who sued McDonalds for $16 million and won for a spilled cup of hot coffee.

Or mabey we should start executing shoplifters and given their entirety of personal possesions to the stores. That would show them!

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478951)

"Just like the woman who sued McDonalds for $16 million and won for a spilled cup of hot coffee."

I am SO TIRED of hearing about this, especially when it's from people who have NO IDEA what really happened. Your statement is the ultimate in ignorance. For your edification - the coffee was excessively hot, and McDonalds had been repeatedly warned about it, a warning they chose to ignore. The coffee was so hot, it melted the cup in her hands, and therefore onto her lap, and she ended up with some serious burns in a spot where I'm thinking most folks would not want to have burns.

So, yes, McDonalds were made to pay, just as they needed to be. And recently, I've bought coffee at McDonalds and had to wait 20 to 30 minutes before I could even begin to drink it, it's been so hot. Seems they have learned nothing.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

russotto (537200) | about 2 years ago | (#40481815)

I am SO TIRED of hearing about this, especially when it's from people who have NO IDEA what really happened.

And I'm tired of hearing refutations from people who swallowed the line from the American Trial Lawyers Association.

For your edification - the coffee was excessively hot, and McDonalds had been repeatedly warned about it, a warning they chose to ignore.

Or perhaps simply a value judgement they disagreed with.

The coffee was so hot, it melted the cup in her hands, and therefore onto her lap, and she ended up with some serious burns in a spot where I'm thinking most folks would not want to have burns.

The first part is utter bullshit. The cup did not melt. She put the cup between her legs and removed the top, spilling the whole cup on herself in the process.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (2)

cc_pirate (82470) | about 2 years ago | (#40480873)

because its unreasonable, thats why!

Just like the woman who sued McDonalds for $16 million and won for a spilled cup of hot coffee.

Or mabey we should start executing shoplifters and given their entirety of personal possesions to the stores. That would show them!

Learn what the f**k really happened to the woman at McDonalds and then stop posting your ignorant moronic response using that as an example. That is a crap example. The woman had to get multiple skin grafts. Why is the internet full of ignorant morons when the info is just one google query away. Stop being lazy.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#40487525)

Also note that McDonalds was warned about this exact issue in the past and they willfully ignored the warnings. They knew it was an accident waiting to happen and looked the other way.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about 2 years ago | (#40478875)

That would be a valid point if shoplifting were just a harmless passtime. However, since it's a crime why not fine them 100 times the cost of what they stole? It might teach them not to do it again. If they only get fined what they steal that's precisely the same as them paying for it at the checkout but with the added bonus that they might well get away with it.

Except that this is just another shakedown, using the law. From the article:

Typically letters are sent to the alleged thieves, even if they have not been prosecuted, demanding they pay compensation to the retailers, or face being taken to court.

Why not just let the criminal courts deal with this? What they are doing looks like extortion to me.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#40487597)

Usually civil cases have a lower hurdle to jump than a criminal case. In the US at least you have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone is guilty in a criminal case, with a unanimous jury, but for a civil case the defendant can agree to be heard by a judge instead of a full jury and the case only has to be proven "on the balance of probabilities".

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

pla (258480) | about 2 years ago | (#40478969)

That would be a valid point if shoplifting were just a harmless passtime. However, since it's a crime why not fine them 100 times the cost of what they stole? It might teach them not to do it again. If they only get fined what they steal that's precisely the same as them paying for it at the checkout but with the added bonus that they might well get away with it.

And you would have a valid point except that the courts already decided that not enough evidence exists to call it a crime - Making your calling them guilty of a "crime" nothing short of libelous. Someone should sue you for 100x the cost of the original accusation, to make up for all the others who go un-sued after defaming these non-criminals. ;)

This involves nothing more than megacorps getting a second turn at raping people they already tried once to rake over the coals. This behavior preys on the weak who can't defend themselves, nothing more and nothing less.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

trewornan (608722) | about 2 years ago | (#40482847)

Making your calling them guilty of a "crime" nothing short of libelous.

It can't be libel to send an individual a letter accusing them of a crime - you'd have to release it to a third party for it too be libelous. That's the nature of libel

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#40484675)

However, since it's a crime why not fine them 100 times the cost of what they stole?

In this case, because the law in the UK doesn't allow that sort of thing in a civil case?

If it's a CRIME, it should be handled under criminal law with the rules of evidence and threshold of guilt set appropriately to a criminal prosecution.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#40487485)

I think it's because it's much more difficult and expensive to prosecute this as a crime which would come with an actual penalty. However suing for recovery of damages usually has a lower legal cost (not sure of UK law or how much evidence a civil suit requires compared to a crimial case). This RLP business was supposed to reduce the cost even further except that it hasn't been working out too well legally.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

julesh (229690) | about 2 years ago | (#40491331)

That would be a valid point if shoplifting were just a harmless passtime. However, since it's a crime why not fine them 100 times the cost of what they stole? It might teach them not to do it again.

Reasonable enough. So prosecute it as a crime.

The company in question, however, are neither the police nor the Crown Prosecution Service, so doing this is not their responsibility. If they want the kids in question prosecuted for shoplifting, they should get these bodies involved. They don't want to -- they prefer their nice little scam where they bully them into handing over large sums of money for security guards' time (when the security guard would have been there whether or not the individual offence took place), the cost of security cameras (when the security cameras were paid for before the offence took place) and "administrative costs" (that amount to a portion of the salary of a person who would have been paid whether or not he were dealing with the offence). It's racketeering, plain and simple. Find somebody who is unlikely to complain to the law about your practices (because they've been doing illegal stuff themselves) and squeeze them for every penny you think they're good for (and how much money do you think the average 15 year old girl is good for?).

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#40494463)

Except that they catch probably 1% of all shoplifters, so that the single miscreant would get fined 100 times the cost of what they stole, which seems to deny equity.

That would be a valid point if shoplifting were just a harmless passtime. However, since it's a crime why not fine them 100 times the cost of what they stole? It might teach them not to do it again. If they only get fined what they steal that's precisely the same as them paying for it at the checkout but with the added bonus that they might well get away with it.

If you can't do the time (or don't want to pay the fine), don't do the crime.

You seem to be confusing criminal and civil cases. In the UK, if you get caught shoplifting you will generally be prosecuted, and if convicted will face various possible criminal sentences ranging from fines to time in prison, depending on whether it is your first offence, how much monetary value was involved, whether you admitted the offence, and so on.

If you sue someone for civil damages you are only entitled to actual damages, you don't get the "plus one million for hurt feelings and another couple for being a meanie" claims like you seem to in the US.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (3, Interesting)

dkf (304284) | about 2 years ago | (#40478099)

Assuming that the show tries its best to catch all the shoplifters it can, it makes sense that if you steal something and the chance you'll get caught is 50% say, you'll have to pay twice the price. And you'll have to add in security costs as well, since otherwise it will come out of the pockets of actual paying customers.

That's not how it works at all, at least in English law. The costs of the prosecution may be recovered (if reasonable) but the costs of detecting the theft in the first place may not. Often, the thief will admit other thefts at the same time (which will be "taken into consideration" during sentencing) but they cannot be punished for that which they were not proved to have done or which they did not admit in court; to do so would be unjust, no matter how convenient for law enforcement and companies.

Fortunately, the vast majority of shoplifters don't just do it once and are thus relatively easy to catch. Most criminals are stupid.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

almechist (1366403) | about 2 years ago | (#40489831)

Most criminals are stupid.

Wrong. Most criminals who get caught are stupid. We don't hear much about the successful criminals, which is precisely how they like it.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40489909)

"Often, the thief will admit other thefts at the same time (which will be "taken into consideration" during sentencing)"

There was a great scene in an episode of the US TV Show Law and Order. DA Jack McCoy is questioning a criminal on the witness stand. The criminal has been given immunity in exchange for his testimony. McCoy is rather cocky in his questioning. The criminal leads McCoy into a trap. Something along the lines of, "I refuse to answer on the grounds I might incriminate myself."
McCoy: but you've been given immunity.
Crook: Well, I just wanna make sure, this immunity is for any crimes I did to help the defendant.
McCoy: Yes. That is what we agreed to. Any crimes you did to help the defendant. You beat up someone for him, correct. [McCoy knew about that[
Crook: Yes. Oh, I also shot and killed, let's see, 5 people over the years. [McCoy did NOT know about that! the crook sneaked them into his immunity agreement.] [I gotta remember that in case I'm ever charged with a crime].

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

kyrio (1091003) | about 2 years ago | (#40478957)

You don't want people stealing from your store? Don't build mega stores where employees can't watch the customers, to make sure they aren't stealing. WAAAAH I WANT MY MEGA STORE. Deal with the cost of shoplifters, then.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#40478549)

a non-profit legal advice service

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if 1,128,729 voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (3, Informative)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 2 years ago | (#40477405)

Because RLP is lying to customers by trying to legally suppress judgements, say, where they were found to have exaggerated damages, by claiming reprting those was "defamation".

That is what is wrong.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (5, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | about 2 years ago | (#40478617)

They don't sue shoplifters.

Their business model is simple: issue an official looking letter containing a "fine" for about £80. If you don't pay up, you get reminders and final warnings and such.

Most people pay up.

However - and I daresay this is where RLP are getting upset - there are two minor problems with this business model:

  - Under UK law, private organisations can't issue fines. That privilege is reserved for government bodies. A court of law can issue a fine, your local council can issue a fine but if I issue you a fine, I can't do a damn thing to force you to pay up.
  - You can't sue someone in order to punish them. If they've caused you to suffer a loss that can somehow be quantified financially, you can sue them to recover the loss, but punitive damages are more-or-less non-existent. If the amount you're suing someone for is in no way related to the amount of financial loss they actually caused, then there's a very good chance it'll be declared a fine and thrown out of court. RLP would need to demonstrate that their "fine" is a genuine estimate of the costs associated with the incident, and as these letters more often than not include the word "Penalty" or "Fine", they've given themselves an uphill struggle before they've even set foot in a courtroom.

NOTE: IANAL. If you are being sued and you take advice from some anonymous Internet source, you need help.

Re:What's wrong with suing shoplifters? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#40484529)

It is wrong to sue shoplifters for an order of magnitude more than the actual damages in a court system that doesn't allow punitive damages. It is wrong to sue people who aren't shoplifters for shoplifting with flimsy (and incorrect) evidence and use the potential legal costs as a bludgeon to get them to settle anyway.

It is wrong to sue a legal advocacy group as a form of harassment because they reported the public information that you lost a court case and why.

If they were merely suing actual shoplifters for the actual damages we would never have heard about it.

hypocrites (3, Insightful)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 2 years ago | (#40477229)

So RLP is serving defamation writs to consumer groups, then immediately and publicly defaming them, claiming they launched a malicious and organised internet smear campaign against RLP...

Also, pics-or-shens of the "death threats" RLP has "gotten".

Re:hypocrites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40477289)

Pics or shens? Who the fuck uses that?

Re:hypocrites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40477459)

It's cool, we're bringing it back.

Re:hypocrites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478101)

I wouldn't be surprised if RLP ends up actually launching attacks against them by making them look bad by posting insulting posts on their own forums anonymously.

The trolls making the innocent look bad. Classic technique. Sadly works all too well on the internet.

meritocracy my ass. (4, Interesting)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#40477231)

Another example how some new mega-powered version of the Peter principle is pushing all the idiots to the heads of these organizations. There seems to be incompetency in the top level of every organization right now.

piracy != theft (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40477265)

It's not theft. It's piracy. They aren't the same thing.

Oh, wait. Sorry. That was just habit.

Re:piracy != theft (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#40494965)

It's not theft. It's piracy. They aren't the same thing.

Oh, wait. Sorry. That was just habit.

Shoplifters are just moving goods from one place (the shop) to another (their pockets). It's logistics, not theft!

Bias? (1)

Zemran (3101) | about 2 years ago | (#40477277)

So if they can bully the watchdogs to remove any bad press, thereby leaving only good comments, they will be very happy...

Striesand effect less important than UK Libel law (4, Insightful)

karlandtanya (601084) | about 2 years ago | (#40477293)

Libel laws in the UK are very biased towards the prosecution.
While RLP's tactics may offend your sense of fair play (they certainly do mine), what they're doing works much better in the UK than other commonwealth countries. Suing somebody for libel in the UK is a common tactic for people who know they have no case another jurisdiction--even when there is little or no justification for their preferred venue.

In UK libel law, RLP has a big stick with which to beat its critics. The Streisand effect may direct a few more folks to the consumer websites--I certainly checked them out.
But I'll bet the degree to which RLP is going to get them to permanently back is worth a little transient negative publicity.

Only compared to the utopic myth of USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40477355)

Only compared to the utolic myth of "Free Speech" as viewed by 'merkins (hey, you complained about USians...).

So if I were to dig up dirt on someone to damage their reputation, EVEN THOUGH true, I can be sued for libel because my intent wasn't to spread information necessary but to damage someone (the difference being the Halloween Documents vs your credit card details. Both secret information, but one is meant to damage you personally and serves no use otherwise).

But this isn't how the USA does it, therefore it MUST BE WRONG.

Re:Only compared to the utopic myth of USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40477401)

The UK libel law is a mess, and certainly not a level playing field. Many people use this broken law to do "drive-by libel" (they don't live in the UK but will find someone in the UK to sue), and to suppress opinion they don't like (Simon Singh and the chiropractors for example). Libel reform is a massive issue in the UK, and had been discussed in parliament. So why don't you go and learn a little about the issue instead of being a complete wanker?

Re:Only compared to the utopic myth of USA (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#40477547)

to suppress opinion they don't like (Simon Singh and the chiropractors for example).

You mean the one that Simon Singh won, because the BCA realised they were about to lose and ran away?

I'll grant that it should have happened quicker, but justice was done in the end.

Re:Only compared to the utopic myth of USA (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#40477979)

to suppress opinion they don't like (Simon Singh and the chiropractors for example).

You mean the one that Simon Singh won, because the BCA realised they were about to lose and ran away?

I'll grant that it should have happened quicker, but justice was done in the end.

If you call it justice when [wikipedia.org] "The case was eventually abandoned by BCA, though leaving Singh out of pocket to the tune of some tens of thousands of pounds",

Re:Only compared to the utopic myth of USA (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#40478683)

A truly free country has none of this nanny-state loser-pays euro-faggot communism!

In the US he would have been down by half a million! Number one! Number one!

Re:Only compared to the utopic myth of USA (1)

danb35 (112739) | about 2 years ago | (#40477489)

So if I were to dig up dirt on someone to damage their reputation, EVEN THOUGH true, I can be sued for libel because my intent wasn't to spread information necessary but to damage someone (the difference being the Halloween Documents vs your credit card details.

You're right, you can't be sued for libel in the U.S. for that. You can, however, be sued on one of the invasion of privacy torts (publication of private facts, most likely). Just because it's true doesn't mean that you have absolute license to print it.

Re:Only compared to the utopic myth of USA (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 years ago | (#40478781)

Just because it's true doesn't mean that you have absolute license to print it.

Unless you are part of the "media", of course. They can print whatever they want.

Re:Only compared to the utopic myth of USA (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#40478723)

So if I were to dig up dirt on someone to damage their reputation, EVEN THOUGH true, I can be sued for libel because my intent wasn't to spread information necessary but to damage someone

AFAIK truth is an absolute defence against libel. Note, though, that merely claiming the statements are true is not enough.

Care to provide a reference to a case that supports your assertion?

Re:Striesand effect less important than UK Libel l (4, Informative)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#40477511)

Libel laws in the UK are very biased towards the prosecution.

You haven't studied UK law [1], you haven't been to the UK and you couldn't point to it on a map.

Stop repeating what you hear other ill-informed idiots say and get some exercise, you fat bastard.

[1] there's no such thing. Also if you had any legal knowledge you'd be aware that civil cases don't have a "prosecution".

Re:Striesand effect less important than UK Libel l (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40477561)

you fat bastard

You'll be hearing from my lawyer who specializes in UK libel law.

Re:Striesand effect less important than UK Libel l (5, Informative)

Cyclizine (2558090) | about 2 years ago | (#40477911)

you fat bastard

You'll be hearing from my lawyer who specializes in UK libel law.

There's no such thing as "UK law"; there's different (but similar) systems in England and Wales [wikipedia.org] and Northern Ireland [wikipedia.org] (both common law jurisdictions). Scotland [wikipedia.org] has a mixed civil/common law system and its own institutions and methods [bbc.co.uk].

Re:Striesand effect less important than UK Libel l (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40479203)

Ok how about you seditious , treasonable, republican rebel ?

Re:Striesand effect less important than UK Libel l (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about 2 years ago | (#40479583)

Care to elaborate? I'd always understood that truth wasn't a defense (defence?) against an accusation of libel in the UK, and thus any damaging speech could be sued over - even if it was only damaging because the plaintiff earned it. This all makes it much easier to punish people for saying things you don't like, unlike in the US where it needs to be demonstrably false and demonstrably harmful.

Am I wrong? If so, I'd love to hear how it actually works, instead of just calling people "fat bastards".

Re:Striesand effect less important than UK Libel l (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40483813)

Wait, how do you know he's fat?

Re:Striesand effect less important than UK Libel l (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40480663)

you are both right and wrong, Liable law in ENGLAND is as you say. There is no liable law in Scotland, we have pretty sensible defamation laws here. Scotland has (and always will have) an entirely separate legal system - it's mentioned specifically in the 1707 act of union. Things get a little hazy with the creation of the UK supreme court but I understand that only Scots judges are allowed to sit on appeal cases that reach the supreme.

IANAL but I did study scots law before dropping out after I realised that most lawyers are actually arseholes.

What they want taken down... (4, Informative)

RattFink (93631) | about 2 years ago | (#40477309)

What they want taken down has nothing to do with defamation and everything to do with offering advise to people who have been sent demands by these people.

Schillings also wrote to BWB, demanding that it take down from its own website its report of the Oxford court case in which it had acted for the two teenage girls.

And Schillings even demanded that the CAB withdraw all its previous publications on civil recovery, including two reports published in 2009 and 2010 which are available on its website.

The reports outline how flimsy their evidence can be and offers effective defenses. This is nothing more then a SLAPP action.

Kids these days... (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#40477385)

Why, back in my day passing the bar was an effectively unfettered license to intimidate and extort practically anybody who couldn't afford the services of my colleagues.

Now with these 'inter-tubes', and moron with an ISP can mock, castigate, calluminate, and generally disrespect me. ME a Respectable Businessman. How dare they? This madness must end.

Re:Kids these days... (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 2 years ago | (#40483581)

Why, back in my day passing the bar was an effectively unfettered license to intimidate and extort practically anybody who couldn't afford the services of my colleagues.

You laugh, but from the wife of Charles Carreon, the guy suing The Oatmeal [arstechnica.com]:

"What kind of connections does someone have in the world to be this arrogant towards a lawyer?" she asked. "Think about it. Inman is WELL-CONNECTED! To me, that just means one thing: mafia."

Can you believe the nerve of a peasant not to kowtow to a lawyer? Unthinkable!

Good (3, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#40477389)

And when they will be unable to present evidence that the harassing threats originated from CAB, hit them with a nice wrongful accusation suit.

Re:Good (1)

kommakazi (610098) | about 2 years ago | (#40480803)

Not just threats, but in the words of RLP's managing director, Jackie Lambert, "threats that threaten" Those are clearly the worst kind, as opposed to those non-threatening threats going around...

Anyone here a lawyer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40479009)

How do you say "Go to hell" in Legalese?

Re:Anyone here a lawyer? (1)

russotto (537200) | about 2 years ago | (#40481661)

Not a lawyer, but: "We refer you to the reply given in the case of Arkell v. Pressdram"

(Technically, that's "fuck off", but the sentiment is the same)

the most pathetic prick (1)

epine (68316) | about 2 years ago | (#40480163)

My Streisand is bigger than your Streisand. Troy had Achilles. We have ... Streisand. You know, you can't accuse someone of ignorance unless you know that they don't actually want that outcome. No wonder so many young men have trouble comprehending women: stated purpose is a weak omen.

Re:the most pathetic prick (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40491669)

They clearly don't want people to know about their shady business practices or about the court judgements against them - hence why they're trying to censor them and hence why I would accused them of ignorance because they didn't realise that by doing this, it would attract attention to the things they were hiding...

Given how incomprehensible your writing style is, I doubt you actually have enough understanding of the English language to understand the article or the summary - so I shouldn't expect too much of you.

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