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An update from 2013

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Matthew Chan:
My comments inline...  My first question is are you American or from the UK? I am unclear what your background is to speak about the UK system so definitively.

--- Quote from: DavidVGoliath on June 26, 2018, 02:02:08 PM ---Civil procedure is quite simple in the UK for the vast majority of claims and, if someone sticks their head in the sand after receiving a court judgement, a claimant can even apply to the High Court to have enforcement officers recover any monies owed to them; these officers have broad powers to seize cash or other assets/goods that can be auctioned off to meet all or part of the total sum (which, if it reaches that stage, will have accrued considerable additional fees for all the enforcement steps).

The US has laws similar to what you describe. However, people who don't intend to be collected upon don't tend to park their assets for others to see or leave accounts stagnant. I have seen first hand the theory vs. the actual practice. If it was so easy, people would just file court papers all day long and money would then magically appear. 

Assets and goods are easily contested or can be "given" or "gifted" pretty easy simply by giving someone possession.  Accounts can be transferred or closed.  People who know they are being pursued don't generally sit there quietly and wait for someone to take their assets.  All this stuff about the additional fees means very little if there are few assets and goods to be found.

As simplistic as the small claims (£10,000 or less) process is, there are rules to follow (, and part of those rules means that claimants must show that they have attempted to settle a matter outside the courts before filing an action... otherwise, they risk censure and having their claim (temporarily) thrown out. That's why letters/emails are always the first steps in any claims process.

I can't speak speak to UK court procedures.  Nevertheless, demand letters are a forewarning if nothing else. I am still not convinced that money transfers so easily if someone is determined to not cooperate. Otherwise, it is easy to just send a few letters to get the formalities out of the way and then go straight to lawsuit to get the "easy money".

Again, the theory sounds so easy. If it was so easy, they could print money by just following a simple, easy system. And there would not be all this conniving, convincing, begging, pleading, threats for someone to pay.

People inherently like easy which is why it is "easier" to ignore the letter. It isn't always the best path but it is "easy". 

--- End quote ---

UK law and US law works quite differently. Copyright infringement claims under 10,000 GBP are handled by the IPEC small claims track. Legal Costs are not covered in the small claims track ( unless the claimant or defendant behaves unreasonably)  Thus a defendant will have to pay damages for the infringement plus a few hundred pounds court fees. Typical damages awards are in the range of 1000 to 3000 GBP. I am not convinced that people will sell their car, move house, close their bank account , close all their social media accounts, go ex directory and hide for 6 years rather than pay a couple of grand.

Also if they do play that game, they are also playing a game of double or quits because if they let court judgement go to collection by High Court Enforcement Officers then the judgement debt will likely double.

I have known of a few cases which have gone to collection and its hard to know what the defendants were thinking but I think its most likely that rather than deliberately hiding from a debt , they have gained the false impression from here that the claim and the legal process is not real but a scam and therefore they do nothing until an HCEO turns up and says "right then, Im taking your car".

As for the contents of claimants letters, how both claimants and defendants behave in their correspondence is set out in the Civil Procedure Rules.  Claimants are expected to set out the legal basis for their claim, how it is calculated and the consequences of not settling out of court. If the claim letters contain undue threats or other unreasonable behaviour then the courts will likely award a much lower level of damages. Statements along the lines of pay me or I will issue legal proceedings are not unreasonable and indeed the claimant is expected to set out the consequences of not reaching a settlement.

Similarly if defendants misbehave the likely outcome will be additional damages for the claimant. Of particular note is that ignoring the claim , the usual advice here, is and has been held to be unreasonable and the court can , will and does award extra damages pursuant CPR 27.14,2(g).  I know of one claimant, a photographer, who was awarded over 750 GBP under this head alone because the defendant failed to fully engage with the claimant. That was in addition to the damages and came to a total of over 2800 GBP for the copyright infringement of a single photograph.

My own advice to anyone receiving a copyright infringement claim is the same as for any other legal claim , ie   first check that the claim is genuine and if it is then try to reach an out of court settlement. Knowledge of IP law and IP case law would likely help in reaching an advantageous settlement. My view is ignoring a lawful claim is most unwise. It only works if the claimant gives up. If he or she does issue a claim then ignoring it will likely prove a very expensive mistake, costing the defendant many times what they could have settled for.

Jaw Jaw is better than War War !


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