In March 2010, Golden Eye (International) Ltd, a company connected with the Ben Dover porn brand, attempted to extract file-sharing settlements from Internet subscribers in the UK.
Golden Eye hired law firm Tilly Bailey & Irvine (TBI), a then 170-year-old law firm with a previously good reputation. Considering the catastrophic performances of others in the field, TorrentFreak was intrigued – why did this company think they could succeed where others had failed?
“Taking into consideration that when operating almost identical schemes both ACS:Law and Davenport Lyons became the subject of SRA investigations, coupled with the Lords labeling this type of scheme ‘legal blackmail’, are Tilly Bailey & Irvine concerned about tarnishing their hard-earned reputation?” we asked the company at the time.
But the company were not going to be allowed to walk away unscathed. Like DL and ACS:Law, TBI had caught the attention of the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and today the conclusion to their investigation was published.
According to Legal Futures, TBI have signed a settlement agreement with the SRA under which the company “admitted to compromising its independence” with the tone of the letters sent to Internet subscribers.
The letters were deemed to be “inappropriately worded and pressurized individuals into settling a claim in circumstances where the firm’s arguments had not been established before the courts.”
Furthermore, the company admitted using its position to “take an unfair advantage of third parties”, conduct that “diminished the public’s trust in the legal profession.”
The Hartlepool-based lawfirm were fined £2,800.
But despite the close call, TBI managing partner John Hall did not take the opportunity to apologize but noted that although the SRA ruled that the company went “too far”, that decision was based on “their interpretation of the rules..[..]”
Hall then went on to describe copyright breaches as “criminal activities” which, as he very well knows, is a wrongful way to describe the activities his company pursued on behalf of Golden Eye.
As reported in September, Golden Eye are now “going it alone” – yet another disaster in the making.