In a statement handed to the Patents County Court earlier this month, ACS:Law owner Andrew Crossley delivered some good news for once. The anti-piracy business had all got too much for Crossley – he would now stop chasing alleged file-sharers.
Crossley, in his usual spin-doctor style, tried his best to blame just about everyone else for his downfall but for those who have followed these cases closely it was clear who was to blame. Crossley and client Lee Bowden, owner of copyright troll MediaCAT, had been the architects of their own doom.
With the Patents County Court hearing adjourned by Judge Birss QC, most observers believed that his ruling, which is now due next week, would be the next significant milestone in this whole sorry affair. But for companies that operate as unusually as ACS:Law and MediaCAT, there’s always a surprise in store.
Since TorrentFreak were the first outlet to report on the activities of ACS:Law back in 2008, it’s perhaps fitting that we should now be the ones to break the news of the company’s ultimate demise.
According to a copy of a document obtained by TorrentFreak, which appears to have been sent out by Crossley during the last week, ACS:Law have not only stopped all file-sharing related work as previously reported, but actually shut down completely 31st January 2011.
Furthermore, the document adds that ACS:Law’s only remaining speculative invoicing client – MediaCAT – has also ceased trading.
“Ahead of Judge Birss’ judgement due on Tuesday, it would seem to some that Mr Crossley and Mr Bowden are attempting to avoid not just ‘judicial scrutiny’ but financial responsibility for the flawed claims that they foolishly decided to issue,” consumer group BeingThreatened told TorrentFreak on hearing the news.
“They perhaps hoped that they might gain a judgement which they could use to threaten future letter recipients, instead their greed has led to the exposure of the significant and manifold flaws in the legal and evidential basis of the speculative invoicing scheme they employed.”
There has been recent speculation that MediaCAT may choose to close their business, particularly since they are now facing an application for “wasted costs” following their recent catastrophic legal venture against 27 alleged file-sharers. But even closure may not save the company’s owner from some hefty payouts.
“MediaCAT’s status as a private limited company may not protect [Bowden] from personal legal liability for the costs that will be demanded by the defendants of the claims MediaCAT brought,” notes Bench. “ACS:Law was not a limited company in any sense. Mr Crossley will remain entirely and personally liable for all the actions of his firm.”
Joe Hickster, the blogger behind the ACS:Bore blog who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes supporting many people who have fallen victim to ACS:Law and similar companies, welcomed the news.
“The news of the pair’s demise is a vindication for the people who stood strong against ACS:LAW/Media C.A.T,” he told TorrentFreak. “The damage they have caused cannot be overestimated, so it’s great news that their campaign of fear against many innocent people seems to be at an end.”
“With Crossley’s upcoming appearance at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, a warning has been sent out to those Solicitors who think they can pick up the poisoned baton of Speculative Invoicing.”
Perhaps the big question now is how the closure of ACS:Law and MediaCAT will affect next Tuesday’s court hearing where Judge Birss QC is due to deliver a ruling on the pair’s activities.
“The timing [of the closures] will be no coincidence, but while these actions may have been conceived as a damage limitation exercise, they will do nothing to appease Judge Birss who is already wise to the ‘twists and turns’ of this scheme and who is unlikely to let the duo’s plan work out quite as they perhaps intend,” concludes BeingThreatened’s James Bench.
So, the show isn’t over yet. Be sure to tune in here on Tuesday to hear what Judge Birss has to say. And bring some popcorn, this should be very interesting indeed.