David Gore and Brian Miller will be told what sanctions they face in a month's time
Allegations of professional misconduct against two partners of law firm Davenport Lyons have been upheld by a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
Brian Laurence Miller, who has since left Davenport Lyons and current partner David Joel Gore, who led a two-year letter-writing campaign to get money from alleged illegal file sharers, now face disciplinary action and could even be struck off.
The investigation into Brian Miller and David Gore's actions by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) began after Which? complained in 2008 that Miller and Gore were engaging in "bullying and excessive" conduct while acting on behalf of copyright holders.
After investigation, the SRA felt there was a case to answer and passed it on the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal for a hearing which started on 31 May.
According to the Solicitors Journal, among the allegations were that the two solicitors did not act in the best interests of clients, were acting in a way likely to diminish trust in the profession and entering into banned contingency fee arrangements.
Arguing for the SRA at the end of the seven-day hearing yesterday, Timothy Dutton QC said the campaign was designed "to make money" and "browbeat people into submission", whether they were innocent or not.
Mr Dutton also said Miller and Gore's actions were "a wholly inappropriate discharge of professional duties".
He called the campaign "a debt collection scheme but no debt was owed", and using IP addresses to accuse people of alleged infringement, was the "flimsiest" of evidence.
He pointed out that no case had been brought to court because they were not "sustainable in law".
He added that the impact of the letters on those accused went far beyond what was necessary.
Miller and Gore's barrister Michael Pooles QC said the claims were "carefully considered" and "pursuit of matters properly undertaken".
He went on to argue that the two solicitors "were not on a frolic of their own" and in writing the letters had merely been anticipating the way the law around copyright infringement was developing.
However the Tribunal returned a verdict that all allegations against Gore and Miller were "upheld".
This may mean the end of these speculative invoicing campaigns by solicitors. Both barristers frequently referred to the ACS Law cases presented to Judge Birss in the Patents Court and his comments on the matter.
Peter Bradwell of the Open Rights Group told us: "This hopefully serves as a funeral for speculative invoicing in the UK. These schemes used quite indiscriminate allegations of copyright infringement as a way of scoring easy money from the public.
"It does nothing for artists and has no place in the modern copyright rulebook."
The Tribunal will now summarise its findings and publish these alongside the allegations when the case is concluded next month. At this hearing it will also hear mitigation pleas from Mr Pooles QC and announce what sanctions it will impose on Gore and Miller.
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