Complaints received regarding Gallant Macmillan LLP (SRA No. 443499)

Kevin Howard made this Freedom of Information request to Solicitors Regulation Authority

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear Solicitors Regulation Authority,

Under your Freedom of Information Code please provide information on the number of complaints received by the SRA regarding settlement demands / offers made by the firm Gallant Macmillan LLP (SRA No. 443499) in respect of alleged illegal file sharing activity.

This information should cover the period 1 January 2010 until 10 August 2010 or the period 1 January 2010 until the date on which the information is supplied in response to this request - whichever is the longer.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

Kevin Howard

Joao Curro,

Dear Mr Howard

Freedom of Information Request - Our Ref: FOI/BS/428

Thank you for your email dated 10 July 2010 to the Solicitors Regulation
Authority (SRA) requesting information under the Law Society Freedom of
Information Code of Practice.

You have requested access to the following information:

Under your Freedom of Information Code please provide information
on the number of complaints received by the SRA regarding
settlement demands / offers made by the firm Gallant Macmillan LLP
(SRA No. 443499) in respect of alleged illegal file sharing
activity.

This information should cover the period 1 January 2010 until 10
August 2010 or the period 1 January 2010 until the date on which
the information is supplied in response to this request - whichever
is the longer.

The SRA is a part of the Law Society but acts independently in carrying
out its regulatory functions. The Law Society is not covered by the
Freedom of Information Act (the FOIA) as it is not a designated authority,
but has adopted its own voluntary Code of Practice which closely reflects
the FOIA. The Code may be found at:

[1]http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/documents/d...

I am currently dealing with your request. Bob Stanley, Information
Compliance Manager will aim to respond formally by 09 August 2010 which is
20 working days from the receipt of your request.

Yours sincerely

Joao Curro
Information Compliance Officer - Legal Services
The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL
t: 020 7242 1222 (Ext 4539)
f: 020 7320 5685
[2]www.lawsociety.org.uk
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Joao Curro,

Dear Mr Howard

Freedom of Information Request - Our Ref: FOI/BS/428

Further to my colleague Joao Curro's email of 12 July 2010 please find
below the response to your request for information under the Law Society
Freedom of Information Code of Practice (the Code).

You have requested access to the following information:

Under your Freedom of Information Code please provide information
on the number of complaints received by the SRA regarding
settlement demands / offers made by the firm Gallant Macmillan LLP
(SRA No. 443499) in respect of alleged illegal file sharing
activity.

This information should cover the period 1 January 2010 until 10
August 2010 or the period 1 January 2010 until the date on which
the information is supplied in response to this request - whichever
is the longer.

I can confirm that the SRA has received one complaint in relation to the
above matter.

I trust this information resolves your request.

Yours sincerely

Bob Stanley
Information Compliance Manager - Legal Services
The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL
t: 020 7242 1222 (x4117)
f: 020 7320 5685
[1]www.lawsociety.org.uk
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Dear Bob Stanley,

Thank you for your exceptionally swift response, however it does not address the period required in my request. My email stated:

"This information should cover the period 1 January 2010 until 10 August 2010 or the period 1 January 2010 until the date on which the information is supplied in response to this request - whichever is the longer."

As such, it will not be possible for you to provide this information until 10 August at the earliest. The information is not required until 10 August so I trust that this will not present a problem.

Thank you again for your rapid efforts. I look forward to your response next month - and regretfully anticipate a significantly larger number of complaints.

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Howard

Joao Curro,

Dear Mr Howard

Thank you for your email.

We have provided you with the information held by our organisation at
the date of the request. Unfortunately we are unable to process FOI
requests for information we may potentially have in the future. Should
you wish to request access to information held by us in August you are
welcome to submit another FOI request then.

Yours sincerely

Bob Stanley
Information Compliance Manager - Legal Services
The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL
t: 020 7242 1222 (x4117)
f: 020 7320 5685
[1]www.lawsociety.org.uk
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Dear Bob Stanley,

I have indicated that I do not require the information until 10 August 2010. There is not any other requirement for you to provide the information prior to 10 August 2010.

You state, "Unfortunately we are unable to process FOI
requests for information we may potentially have in the future."

The request does not ask for information 'in the future' - it asks for the number of complaints 'on the date of the response'.

You suggest that I submit a FOI new request in August. I see no reason to do so. My request stands. If you wish to process it in August that is perfectly acceptable.

I appreciate that the request is phrased in an unusual manner but is within the scope of you Freedom of Information Code.

It is regrettable that the SRA will, almost without exception, not respond to FOI requests until the expiry of the full 20 days allowed by your FOI Code (even when it is apparent that this delay was not necessary). If this were not the case I would have phrased my request quite differently.

I look forward to receiving the information requested in August. If the information is not provided at that time I shall act as required to ensure that a solution is found to the failure to answer my request.

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Howard

Bob Stanley,

Dear Mr Howard

I will respond to your request on or shortly after 10 August 2010 as
requested.

Yours sincerely

Bob Stanley
Information Compliance Manager - Legal Services
The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL
t: 020 7242 1222 (x4117)
f: 020 7320 5685
www.lawsociety.org.uk
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Kevin Howard left an annotation ()

To explain this request to those who may not be aware:

Gallant Macmillan recently began operating a scheme which is commonly known as 'speculative invoicing'. The following descriptions of speculative invoicing may not apply directly to the model utilised by Gallant Macmillan. Any statements below may be considered the 'personal opinion' of the writer.

Typically in this business model a law firm sends a multiple-page letter written in 'legalese' to the bill payer of an internet connection. It states that a copyright infringement has taken place via the connection and threatens to bring a massively expensive lawsuit against the bill payer unless they opt to settle out-of-court for a figure usually in the region of several hundred pounds.

Often a payment form will be enclosed. The time period in which the respondent must reply is usually short.

These schemes operate despite the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 requiring that to be legally responsible for an act of copyright infringment, a person must have carried out the act themself or authorised another to do so - not merely paid the bill on an internet account.

Law firms carrying out speculative invoicing tend to be characterised by:

- large numbers of claims issued at one time regarding a very limited number of copyright works
- failure to provide evidence of any transfer of data in the copyright infringement
- failure to provide any evidence to demonstrate who carried out the act of infringing the copyright
- ignoring responses from bill payers denying responsibility for the alleged infringement
- often, attempts to get the bill payer to admit liablity, even if innocent

Read more here: http://torrentfreak.com/yet-more-lawyers...

If you have received a claim from Gallant Macmillan read the Speculative Invoicing Handbook, here: http://www.beingthreatened.com/resources... and visit BeingThreatened.com: http://www.beingthreatened.com

Anne Greenwood left an annotation ()

I have received a 4 page document including a settlement agreement (to avoid the high costs of going to court).The request is for £375 or £350 online. There is no hard evidence provided so I am unable to determine if the music in question was actually downloaded or identify who did the downloading.I pay the internet bill but do not use the computer!! I will certainly be putting in a formal complaint.

Anne Greenwood

ste left an annotation ()

I to have received the same letter, on investigation the address on the letter doesn't match up with the address on the website. Also Its signed Gallant Macmillan but the only partner listed with a similar name is Simon Gallant ? It seems a bit questionable and i will watch this site with interest.I to am the bill payer got the letter and i have not downloaded the said album!

Daz left an annotation ()

I too have just recieved one of these letters.

Please check out....

http://acsbore.wordpress.com/

Lots of very interesting facts and help as to what to do next.

Dont panic.

Anne Greenwood left an annotation ()

The letter I received related to Anthems Electronic 80s which has 60 popular tracks on that many people would have in their music libraries. (I do not have any of them!) I'd be interested to hear if other letters cited this particular album.

White Dragon left an annotation ()

I too have received a threatening letter from gallant Macmillan claiming I have illegally downloaded the ministry of sounds Electronica 80's album, I maybe the bill payer but I certainly did not download this alleged file. I do not want to pay £350 for something I have no knowledge of or involvement in, I also do not want the stress of a potential court case. What should I do? any advice would be most appreciated.

Kevin Howard left an annotation ()

A few of these annotations are asking for guidance.

If that's you, please see the comprehensive resources linked in the first annotation. If you've not read the 'Speculative Invoicing Handbook' cover-to-cover at least twice then you don't need any other advice yet. Read it!

Link: http://www.beingthreatened.com/resources...

Janine left an annotation ()

My partner received a similar letter to those stated. We too have no recollection of downloading the ministry of sound album mentioned. We do not know what to do next. Should we pay to avoid court or try and prove our innocence? Worried!!!

Kevin Howard left an annotation ()

Janine, see the annotation immediately above yours.

Karen & Ian left an annotation ()

My wife has received one of these standard letters as she is the bill payer to our ISP. We have taken a robust position with GM seeking further information from them in relation to the number of letters sent split by;

1) letters to individuals knowingly sent in the absence of evidence implicating that individual

versus;

2) the number of letters sent where they do in fact have some supporting evidence

I think I can guess where the balance lies. We have also asked for a precise breakdown of the three heads of claim being;

MOS loss/damages
Legal costs
ISP's admin charge

This will put their "claim" into some context.

It occurs to us to knowingly send a speculative and threatening letter of this type in the absence of a shred of supporting evidence (my wife can of course prove there is no evidence) gives rise to a foreseeable loss or personal injury by way of stress, anxiety, cost and inconvenience. Indeed my wife became quiet upset on receiving this letter not least because she has no idea how to download music! And so she has claimed general damages from GM accordingly.

As they have not replied within the time limit given we shall proceed with a complaint to the SRA and others in copy such as the various consumer organisations and even our local MP.

Joao Curro,

Dear Mr Howard

Freedom of Information Request - Our Ref: FOI/BS/428

Further to my email of 14 July 2010 please find below the response to your
request for information under the Law Society Freedom of Information Code
of Practice (the Code).

You have requested access to the following information:

Under your Freedom of Information Code please provide information
on the number of complaints received by the SRA regarding
settlement demands / offers made by the firm Gallant Macmillan LLP
(SRA No. 443499) in respect of alleged illegal file sharing
activity.

This information should cover the period 1 January 2010 until 10
August 2010 or the period 1 January 2010 until the date on which
the information is supplied in response to this request - whichever
is the longer.

I can confirm that there have been 29 complaints regarding settlement
demands / offers made by the firm Gallant Macmillan LLP in respect of
alleged illegal file sharing activity between 1 January and 10 August
2010.

I trust this information resolves your request.

Yours sincerely

Bob Stanley
Information Compliance Manager - Legal Services
The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL
t: 020 7242 1222 (x4117)
f: 020 7320 5685
[1]www.lawsociety.org.uk
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Dear Joao Curro / Bob Stanley,

Thank you for your response. I know this information will be of wide interest.

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Howard

john roberts left an annotation ()

I received a letter from Gallant Macmillan about 1 month ago with their usual demands for money for the services of downloading a piece of music which I have never owned.I sent them back the standard Letter of Denial by recorded delivery-as posted on the internet.This morning I received a 2nd letter from them saying that my letter did not respond to the allegations made against me!!
My letter said;'I categorically deny any offence under the act' and 'I have never possessed a copy of the work in any form'.
They claim that my letter makes'unsupported denials'.
I would appreciate any comments or help with with this.
John Roberts.

Joe Hickster left an annotation ()

I have a few posts regarding Gallant Macmillan and their "Speculative invoicing" on my Blog. Some of them involve the way it is done and also the changes in their setup as one of the partners has now quit(Kate Macmillan)

http://acsbore.wordpress.com/

I try to keep it updated with the latest news and would welcome emails from people accused by them.

Thanks Kevin for this enquiry it has proved fruitful.

nick horner left an annotation ()

I have just received a 2nd letter from Gallant Macmillan stating that my previous letter of denial was not sufficient, please can anybody advise what to do next?

Leeb left an annotation ()

help!! i have received my second letter after sending the frst from the being threatened website - they name 6 or 7 times my IP address gave out the album in question?!?! what do i do next??

Scott left an annotation ()

I received my 2nd letter today and its probably the same template everyone else received. Not sure what to do next also a little confused as it states two IP addresses? Any advice on the next stage appreciated.

Kevin Howard left an annotation ()

To the above:

If you neither DID nor AUTHORISED (ie. told or explicitly allowed someone to) commit the alleged infringement then another letter means NOTHING.

You have not broken any law and they have not provided any evidence that you did.

Reply and deny. If you’re feeling keen then point out the lack of substance in their claim and challenge them on it. Put the letter in the post and quit worrying.

Quit worrying however, does not translate to: ‘do nothing’. This is the time to complain to your MP, the SRA and anyone else that will listen. Gallant Macmillan have wasted your time and caused you grief. In order for this nonsense to stop, you need to stop it being worth their while. However much grief they caused you – double it and throw it back at them – you now need to learn how to make a royal nuisance of yourself. Go get ‘em!

Good luck!

Steve left an annotation ()

I received a letter yesterday from Gallant Macmillan regarding 'BIG TUNES - Back 2 the 90's' which I allegedly dowloaded last December. I would not soil my hard drive with such rubish!! Thanks to all who posted here for your help, I have reported Gallant Macmillan to SRA via the link above.

Steve

Anon200 left an annotation ()

Thanks for all the info Kev and co.
You have all set my mind at ease a little.
I to have been unsoundly accused and I will now respond to Gallant Macmillan and report them to the SRA.

woot025 left an annotation ()

The info on here has been brilliant. Thanks to all the other posts. Ive just made my complaint to the SRA. Theyre passing it on to their investigators..

Daz left an annotation ()

Got 2nd letter today - usual format - blah blah - gonna write back and deny again! - will report to MP and SRA
when will these people stop this speculative harrassment?

john roberts left an annotation ()

Thanks to Kev and everyone for help and info.Responded to 2nd letter from this bunch of chancers-Gallant MacMillan!Sent them a letter over 14 days ago denying the specific allegations as in their 1st letter,have heard nothing since,which,as it is now more than 14 days since my response leads me to suspect they have got the message-finally!!
Hope this helps others and once again thanks to Kev and all the other contributors.
John.

Daz left an annotation ()

British law firm called Ralli is persuading the file-sharers that have been bullied by another law firm ACS: Law with warning letters and requests for compensation for copyright violation to join the group action Ralli is pursuing.
Attorneys at British law firm called Ralli are now attempting to gather support from the subscribers that have been bullied by ACS: Law, normally demanding about $750 for alleged copyright violation. The law firm thinks the file-sharers may be entitled to compensation for harassment.
The anti-P2P campaign in question started in the end of last spring. The interesting fact is that it followed the attempt of Davenport Lyons, another law firm, which had quit bringing individuals to the court as it caused tons of bad publicity. It wasn’t a surprise, as the firm primarily sent warning to non-porn watching and non-gaming elderly people. As a result, their actions even led to the firm being reported to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority for bullying the consumers by a watchdog “Which?”
As for ACS: Law, it didn’t pay any attention to the concerns of the consumers and steeped into creating a so called “revolutionary business model,” able to generate a revenue flow for copyright owners and decrease copyright violation. The new model was kicked off with the announcement to sue tens of thousands unauthorized file-sharers as the first step only. This first step launched over 150 complaints from people having been falsely accused. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the law firm defended the approach of the outfit, claiming that they were unaware of any innocent subscribers being targeted, and insisting that the plan was vital to be implemented in order to eradicate unauthorized file-sharing.
Now another law firm, Ralli, is trying to persuade falsely accused users that have become victims of ACS: Law’s excessive conduct to team up and join a group action being pursued against ACS: Law for harassment. The firm’s lawyers are at the moment advising file-sharers who have received such threatening letters but are innocent. There are just too many examples of people who have even never heard of the media they are accused of obtaining, like an elderly gentleman accused of downloading dance music when he doesn’t have any idea about neither the genre, nor the artist.

hope this new info may help

Craig left an annotation ()

Thanks to Kevin and all who have posted their advice on this page. I too have just received my follow-up letter from Gallant Macmillan stating that in my first response I made a 'series of unsupported denials' and that I should make a 'proper explanation as to why I'm not liable'.

The letter they have sent is quite intimidating, even though the accusation they make is completely unfounded. I have stated in my 2nd response to them that I now consider their actions to be harassment and have simply restated my position.

I have also pointed out to Gallant Macmillan that they initially demanded a reply within 21 days of their first letter, to which I obliged. Their follow-up letter was then received 43 days after my response and now they demand a reply within 14 days. It doesn’t take a mathematician to work out what the dead-line will be in their next letter…….

Thanks again for all the advice.

Scott left an annotation ()

Right thats my second response sent to those so called Solicitors challenging them with an explanation of how I can have two IP addresses. I have also stated will not be listening to anything else apart from how this can happen. Chat with my local MP next week and SRA informed. Lets go from here.

Daz left an annotation ()

Trying to put together my response to my 2nd letter but unsure how to structure / phrase this to get them to go away.... Can anyone give me an idea ... I have already denied the claim and they are asking for proof to substantiate this denial but other than to deny it again how can i do this?
Many thanks

Kevin Howard left an annotation ()

Daz: In all probability you can't. The system is designed that way. However, the obligation at this stage is on them to prove that you have breached the CDPA, not on you to prove that you didn't.

Repeat your denial and state that no further correspondence will be entered into until they provide evidence that supports an accusation against you under the CDPA (ie. evidence which shows that you definately *did* or *authorised* the alleged infringement).

Daz left an annotation ()

Thanks Kevin
they say in their letter that on 12 seperate occasions the 'material' was made available from my IP address
i did NOT download this and the only other people to use my internet connection are my step-children who connect to it via their phones and ipod thingys - i have spoken to them and they each say they havent downloaded it either
searched my pc and this album is not on my computer
what else can i do ?

Kevin Howard left an annotation ()

Like I said:

"Repeat your denial and state that no further correspondence will be entered into until they provide evidence that supports an accusation against you under the CDPA (ie. evidence which shows that you definitely *did* or *authorised* the alleged infringement)."

They have written to YOU. The CPDA requires YOU to have committed the alleged infringement or to have authorised it. Evidently neither is so. End of case.

Tom Hodder left an annotation ()

have I missed something, or has the SRA not replied on the 10th August?

Kevin Howard left an annotation ()

RebelMC left an annotation ()

I have received a letter dated 29 November stating that Gallant MacMillan are no longer acting for MoS and that MoS will be instructing a new firm of solicitors who may( or may not) contact me in the future. Hopefully this is an end to this nonsense.

Steve left an annotation ()

Well Rebel MC, I was only thinking the other day that I've not received a second letter from Gallant MacMillan, so was assuming they have realised they've got nothing to gain from harrassing us all for money we don't owe. I hope you're right and this is the end of the matter.

Steve.