Copyright “troll” Andrew Crossley has been suspended from practicing law for two years and ordered to pay costs
The solicitor and founder of the now defunct ACS:Law rose to infamy in the last two years when it was revealed that he had been attempting to extort money from hundreds of Internet users by sending them bullying letters, accusing them of copyright infringement and ordering them to pay just under £500 or face legal action. The “speculative invoicing” letters were sent on behalf of MediaCAT, a company claiming to represent right holders, but not a rights holder itself. MediaCAT went bankrupt in January 2011.
According to a report by The Lawyer, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) levied seven charges against Crossley, most of which he admitted to.
These included that he allowed his independence to be compromised; acted contrary to the best interests of his clients; acted in a way that was likely to diminish the trust the public places in him or in the legal profession; entered into arrangements to receive contingency fees for work done in prosecuting or defending contentious proceedings before the Courts of England and Wales except as permitted by statute or the common law; acted where there was a conflict of interest in circumstances not permitted, in particular because there was a conflict with those of his clients; used his position as a Solicitor to take or attempt to take unfair advantage of other persons being recipients of letters of claim either for his own benefit or for the benefit of his clients.
The SRA dropped a further charge that Crossley had provided false information in statements made to the courts.
Crossley, however, denied responsibility for the data breach that caused his downfall, shifting blame for the attack to his ISP. The Tribunal was unsympathetic, finding that he should have been more vigilant, and should not have left it to his provider to protect him, particularly since he was using a service inadequate to his needs at a cost of £5.99 a month.
The data breach, which occurred in September 2010, was a result of a hack by hacktivist group Anonymous, among others, and led to the release of names and personal details of at least 5,000 individuals that Crossley was planning to target as alleged file sharers.
The Information Commissioner’s Office had already investigated the matter and found Crossley guilty, fining him £200,000, an amount that was reduced to a fine of £1,000 as a result of his bankruptcy. The fine remains unpaid.
In a letter published in the Law Society Gazette in April 2010, Crossley said he had recovered close to £1 million through “injunctive relief and civil action”.