A lawyer who sent out hundreds of thousands of threatening letters demanding that alleged file-sharers pay 400 euros, has been banned from operating for 6 months. Elizabeth Martin, who had been working with Swiss anti-piracy outfit, Logistep, was condemned by the Paris Bar Council.
For anti-piracy company, Logistep, life is becoming more and more difficult by the day. They have been deemed to be operating illegally in Italy and have been slammed over privacy issues in the home country, Switzerland. Now, according to a report – and to add further insult to this growing pile of misery – a lawyer they’ve been working with in France has just found herself in an awful lot of trouble.
Lawyer Elizabeth Martin had been demanding 400 Euros from hundreds of thousands of file-sharers who Logistep say had been infringing the rights of software company Techland, on their game ‘Call of Juarez’.
In her letters she warned alleged file-sharers that should it be necessary to take anyone to court, the costs would be substantial. File-sharers were also led to believe that should they be found guilty, they would not only be responsible for their own costs, but those of the other side – with an indication that the decision against them would mount to “hundreds of thousands of euros”.
Of course, none of these letters are complete without some threats and intimidation. Elizabeth Martin – just like the UK’s Davenport Lyons – finishes up with with a threat totally disproportionate to any petty copyright offense. “If you are not able to pay the damages ordered by the court, our client will seek to gain the amount by the sale of your goods”.
This wording is very similar to other letters received all across Europe, including those received from UK lawyers Davenport Lyons, who are also working with Logistep in exactly the same manner. Their version is “In the event that you were not able to pay whatever sums the court may direct, our client would have no option but to take steps to enforce the debt against your property.”
Unfortunately for Elizabeth Martin, it’s not just the general public who are disgusted by her actions. She has been the subject of a Conseil de l’Ordre du Barreau de Paris disciplinary investigation – and subsequent condemnation – by none other than her own peers. How embarrassing.
The disciplinary board decided that “By choosing to reproduce aggressive foreign methods, intended to force payments, the interested party also violated [the code] which specifies that the lawyer cannot unfairly represent a situation or seriousness of threat.”
In addition, the lawyer also violated the code by cashing payments into a private account, not the usual dedicated litigation account, known as a ‘Carpa’. Martin also refused to reveal how many payments had been received from file-sharers.
For these serious breaches, Elizabeth Martin was ordered by the disciplinary board to suspend her activities as a lawyer for 6 months. Furthermore, she was banned from belonging to the National Council of the Bars (CNB) and other such professional associations for a period of 10 years.
Thanks to Ganza