Davenport Lyons says SDT action on file-sharing is ‘totally unjustified’

Davenport Lyons has hit back at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal’s (SDT) decision to fine and ban from practice two partners that sent “intimidating letters” saying the action was “totally unjustified”.

This morning the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) welcomed the SDT’s decision to ban partner David Gore and former partner Brian Miller from practice for three months after they were found guilty of sending aggressive letters to individuals accused of illegal file sharing (2 August 2011).

The pair, who were represented in the SDT by Hailsham Chambers’ Michael Pooles QC, are planning to appeal the ruling, Davenport Lyons said.

Capsticks partner Peter Steel instructed Fountain Court’s Tim Dutton QC to act for the SRA.

The pair were each fined £20,000 for their conduct and ordered to pay the SRA’s interim costs of £150,000.

The letters sent by the partners demanded compensation and costs and warned that the recipients faced further action and increased costs if the matter was not settled as a matter of urgency.

An investigation by the SRA found that the concerns of those who had received letters and protested their innocence were disregarded.

The SDT said it had found that Miller and Gore became too concerned about making the scheme profitable for themselves and their firm.

However, Davenport Lyons said the partners had simply been following the instructions of clients. In a statement the firm said: “We were instructed by the owners of intellectual property rights in music, film and games to help them curtail the significant losses they were suffering as a result of the unlawful file-sharing of their products. 

“The steps we took on behalf of our clients were for the protection of their legitimate legal rights. We consider that we acted in our clients’ best interests at all times.

“We wholeheartedly support David and Brian’s intention to appeal both the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal’s original decision and the resulting suspension and fine.”