back to article Default judgement FAIL: ACS:Law muffs up in court

ACS:Law, the much-criticised scaremongering law firm, is famous for firing out thousands of threatening letters to alleged file sharers. The firm has previously tried to squeeze settlements out of accused people rather than going to trial. But this week it did actually try to take eight cases to court – but all were dismissed by …


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  1. envmod


    linsey dawn mckenzie films? they're trying to sue people for downloading linsey dawn mckenzie films?? they should bloody pay them not sue them...

    deary me...who the fuck downloads linsey dawn mckenzie films??

    i'm gonna check some out later for shits and giggles. quite likely to be the least sexy thing on the net.

    1. LaeMing

      shits and giggles

      I'd recommend a nitrous oxide based laxative for that!

  2. IglooDude

    Oh my

    "FAIL" would hardly seem to be sufficient description of this circumstance. Megafail? Terafail perhaps?

    1. Rob


      ... reckon Gigafail is appropriate as it almost sounds like a mix between giggle and fail whilst also appealing to us techheads :)

    2. Oninoshiko
      Thumb Up

      I think we should look at it from the other side...

      Megawin on the judge's part. All those are quite good points, and "the court is not convenced you have standing" is just great to see. I think more cases need thrown out because of that.

    3. Tzael

      Re: Oh my

      A big F in red felt tip at the top of a report card is more than adequate. Should invoke some childhood memories for the folks at ACS:Law.

    4. thecakeis(not)alie

      The only appropriate unit of measurment

      is the failureplex.

    5. Richard IV


      Petafail involves naked celebrities

    6. Ed Deckard


      Defined as Fail(10^27).

  3. CD001

    The question

    The question then becomes - if they can't even manage to follow due process - why the fuck are they allowed to practice law?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why allowed to practice?

      in the folorn hope they'll get it right.


  4. beerandbiscuits


    As someone who has to deal with the courts, I have some sympathy for them on the points relating to service and filing of the defences. It simply isn't the fault of the litigant (no matter what you think of his case) if the court hasn't done its job properly by serving the claim, properly recording the fact and sending out the filed defences to the claimant.

    On the other hand, there is really little excuse for the pleading errors and the pretty obvious failures to follow procedure on the judgment requests. These are things litigators deal with on a daily basis, and they shouldn't be getting them wrong.

    1. umacf24

      "things litigants deal with on a daily basis"

      I suppose the point here is that ACS are not really litigants. They prefer people to just send them a cheque.

  5. Hans Upp

    Is this POETIC justice?

    Actually, I am writing a poem about this farce but unfortunately I'm a bit stuck for a word to rhyme with a line that ends in 'lankers' . . .

    so, I'm open to suggestions?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      yeah, that's the ticket....

    2. Sabine Miehlbradt

      How about

      spank us?

  6. John Dougald McCallum
    Thumb Up

    County Court

    This may or may not be binding on other Courts but it will certainly point a huge finger in the direction that the rest will go.Also does one get the impresion that The beak are getting more tech savvy?

  7. Paul Williams
    Paris Hilton


    Well, she's got her knockers....

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    A Judge who calls BS on there antics

    First rate work.

  9. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Wow! Did someone just open a window?

    I'm sure a felt a waft of fresh air clearing out some of the stink in the legal system.


    No, not Mega, more like Femto or Atto. I wouldn't want them to think they had any more importance than the full stop on the footnote to the erratta on page 973.

  10. Richard Porter

    Unsecured Wi-Fi

    "he said it was uncertain that the owner of an unsecured Wi-Fi connection could be held responsible for any copyright infringement that might take place over that connection"

    So I conclude that if one were engaging in illegal filesharing it would be better to leave one's Wi-Fi connection unsecured.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      well presumably

      that presents an affirmative defence. And until such time as the law it changed, it always will.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: unsecured wifi

      Just use basic WEP, it will keep the riff-raff out but is so insecure that anyone with a modicum of skill can get in. Having some unknown machine names in your DHCP logs and long lease times would also help.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    It's a shame

    ..Their website isn't up to report on this court case. They were always so keen to report on copyright related cases.

  12. ratfox

    Hurray for Judge Birss

    Title says it all

  13. Ashton Black
    Thumb Up

    Nice work!

    The most amusing story of the week!

  14. Steen Hive
    Thumb Up

    Not only schysters

    But *crappy* schysters to boot.

  15. david wilson


    >>"Secondly, he said it was uncertain that the owner of an unsecured Wi-Fi connection could be held responsible for any copyright infringement that might take place over that connection."

    That would always seem likely to be a tricky issue, especially if someone hasn't had prior warnings that something dodgy may be being done with their network.

    In fact, that'd be the case whether the network was supposedly secured or not, given the limited security of some secured networks, and the fact that it'd be difficult to prove at a later date whether a network was actually secured at some earlier time.

    Any sensible system would have some process for giving warnings before taking serious action, to protect the innocent and give them a chance to check their security, and to give other people a chance to stop and think.

    1. Richard Gadsden 1

      Don't forget BT FON

      Even if your network is properly secured, if you have a BT FON network, then other people can download over your internet connection through the unsecured BT FON half.

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        BT FON

        I wondered about BT FON after a previous article on filesharing, so I connected to my own wireless router via FON and checked the internet IP address.

        It looks like the FON connection has a different IP and subnet from LAN connections. Presumably, since the FON connection uses an authenticated BT account, you could be traced even if you fileshare via FON.

    2. davcefai

      Allow / Authorise

      The judge made the interesting point that the act says "authorise", ie not just "allow". This could really upset some applecarts.

  16. Drefsab


    Im shocked and very very pleasantly surprised to see someone with some common sense in the law profession, ACS law are one of the biggest bunch of con artists going, its about time their cases where thrown out.

  17. daftveggie

    I'd love to have been in the room when...

    ACS explained to their clients how badly they screwed up trying to pull a fast one on the Patents Court.

  18. Tom Kelsall

    I can only surmise...

    ...that ACS:Law is not run by lawyers; or is run by seriously inexperienced ones. County Court procedure is Junior Lawyer 101 - it's the sort of shit which is thrown to the office bitch boy to deal with. Amateurs. Rank Amateurs.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Don't Shoot Me

      I can't believe I'm posting a reply which could be read as defending ACS:Law, but.....

      maybe, just maybe, the case WAS given to the office junior/bitch boy, and wasn't handled personally by the senior partner.

      Sesame Street - brought to you today by the letter P and the numbers 4 and 5.

      Well done by everyone involved in pushing these cases back to ensure they are properly tried (or better still, dropped).

      (but now having thought about it, the Senior partner was the one who complained how it was more inconvenient queueing for coffee in the morning. Right before 4Chan took him out. FAIL)

    2. seanj

      Re: I can only surmise...

      It's run by a lawyer, but one who based his business model solely around the fervent hope of never actually having to see the inside of a court room.

  19. billse10

    Terafail, terrifying fail, or just a legal "charlie fox" ?

    you missed some good lines:

    "The requests for judgment should never have been filed."

    "In this case .. there is no record to indicate that the claim form has been served"

    "in three others there is simply no evidence proceedings have been served"

    "I should end by recording that I am not sorry to have reached the conclusion I have in refusing all the requests for default judgment."

    and an interesting last statement:

    "Peer to peer file sharing which involves copyright infringement is an important and serious matter and claimants with a proper claim are entitled to use the full machinery of the courts to enforce their rights. Default judgment is an important part of the court's armoury in order to ensure that defendants engage with the legal process properly but it would not be a significant burden on claimants in cases like these to be required to use the part 23 procedure in all such cases."

    In other words, stop trying to short-circuit the legal process and do things the lazy way. There is a way for you to do this; this is not it, and by trying it this way you're telling me you're as well-trained a lawyer as that Double Cheeseburger over there. Apologies to the Double Cheeseburger for the insulting comparison; at least it isn't a useless parasite.

    1. Tom 35

      trying to short-circuit

      But that's the whole business model.

      They send out blackmail letters to bypass the whole legal process,

  20. Trollslayer

    The punishment for ACS

    Pitchforks, boiling tar and flaming torches.

    1. Tom 35


      I really big roach motel. Just drop in a few coins as bait.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Oh My oh my ....

    I have only just stopped laughing enough to be able to type this .......

    I still think ARS:Law is a better name.

  22. irrelevant


    I especially liked this bit: "It will be apparent that the claim has a number of unusual features, leaving aside the nature of the films themselves:" - a judge with a sense of humour! :-)

    But seriously, as a lay person whom has actually taken someone to court myself, and won, the procedures aren't THAT difficult, and HMCS provide plenty of helpful and clearly written guides to assist. I'd have thought even the most junior solicitor would have been able to cope.

  23. Juan Inamillion

    They don't have an alibi

    ACS:Law would be perfectly at home with this courtroom scenario:

  24. durandal
    Paris Hilton

    From the judgement

    "The Particulars of Claim goes on to plead that the Work "embodies sound recordings, films, broadcasts or cable programmes" and gives the relevant British Board of Film Classification certificate number. A copy of the Work is available for inspection from the claimant's solicitors."

    Now, I'm positive that I wouldn't get this through on expenses, but this strikes me as an ideal time to demand to see said work as a matter of public record. In their offices. With the volume up high. Preferably whilst they're meeting clients

  25. MJI Silver badge

    Are they stil going?

    I thought they were shut down!

  26. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Epic Fail doesn't even cover it

    Judges might often be considered out of touch with the man in the street but one thing for sure is they usually won't let 'scam artists who try to play the system' get their way.

    I've sat in civil cases where the judge has pretty much taken a four-by-four to claimants and this must have been a gem to see. The judgement may not carry precedent weight but it is clear that the courts and Judges know all about these cases and the reputation of ACS:Law must be in the gutter.

    ACS:Law seems to be behaving no different to any number of Debt Collection Agencies who terrorise their clients while relying on their lack of legal knowledge and fear to extort money from them where there is no case to be found. The courts are well familiar with the tactics and don't usually let them get away with it.

    In this case the Judge has sent a clear message of valid defence to everyone facing charges; "Allowing" is not "authorising", and that message will go round the court circuit. That may not be upheld if pursued in higher courts but it's a clear signal that ACS:Law likely doesn't have a leg to stand on and all defendants may have a legitimate defence.

    I'll raise a glass to the Honourable Judge.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Never mind S Crossley

    You can always buy a dinky toy lambo...

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So does that mean me running Fon on on my Wifi gives me an excuse? Although I'd imagine BT know what times people are using it but the complication is probably enough to make for a convincing defense to the likes of ACS.

    Then again I'm not daft enuff to use torrents anyway... There are many other ways to download illegal files if you really want to that are pretty untraceable, this P2P purge is only going to hit the non-technical out there.

    Glad to hear ACS failed big time, couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

  29. bob 46
    Thumb Up

    About time

    About time we saw some common sense here. The analogy I like to use is a car - if someone nicks your car and uses it to commit a crime, there is just no way you should be held responsible for that crime. Even if you left the door of your car open and the keys in the ignition. It might be a stupid thing to do, but you're NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACTIONS OF OTHER PEOPLE!

    Score 1 for common sense

  30. MJI Silver badge

    Time to fine them out of existance

    Over tha data breach

  31. Sam Therapy

    Nice one, Judge Birss

    Good to read ACS got their arses well and truly kicked.

  32. Tigra 07

    Down with this sort of thing!

    Another blow to these fuckers.

    Do they even know anything about the legal system they supposedly trained in to become a law firm?

    Clearly they're just bullies using scare tactics to get payments

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    The only people I despise more than the bandwidth hogging

    copyright-infringing filesharers are the miscreant lawyers who pursue them and the pigopolists who hire them.

    Good job your Honor.

  34. Robin 1

    Smart judge, but it's only a matter of time...

    before these clowns either find one who isn't, or corner the court into accepting the petitions.

    Essentially the judge took a look at the claim and decided this wasn't the right place for it. It had little (or nothing) to do with what was or wasn't filled out properly -- he used that as an excuse to toss the cases.

    The next step here will be when one of these goes through -- and sooner or later, one will. Then we'll see what happens...

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If ACS:Fail eventually win things will go bad for them

    Even worse than a huge fine - I would not want to upset anyone. They need to stop.

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