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You know the many US lawyers sending out warning letters on behalf of copyright holders, threatening alleged Internet movie pirates with federal lawsuits and possible $150,000 fines unless they pay a few thousand dollars to make the mess go away? The UK has them, too—indeed, the practice took hold there before the current wave of such cases on this side of the Atlantic. And two of the first such lawyers have just been suspended from practicing law and hit with huge fines for their work on such schemes.Davenport Lyons was one of the first UK firms to get into the "settlement letter" business in 2006. The law firm would go to court with a list of IP addresses it had gathered from file-sharing networks, then obtained a "Norwich Pharmacal" order from a judge that forced Internet providers to match these addresses up with real names. After that, the letters went out.Consumer groups screamed loudly about the whole campaign, especially as people kept coming forward expressing ignorance or bafflement about the movies or video games they were charged with downloading. But Davenport Lyons wasn't a fly-by-night operation; in 2008, the BBC's "Watchdog" series called them "one of the most respected law firms in the UK."But consumer group Which? saw the tactics as little above blackmail and filed a complaint with the UK's Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The SRA investigated two Davenport Lyons partners and turned its material over the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT), which has the power to try to punish lawyers. At a hearing earlier this summer, the SDT found lawyers David Gore and Brian Miller at fault for their actions regarding the 6,000 letters they oversaw. As the SRA, which had compiled the case, put it:An investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) found that the concerns of those who had received letters and protested their innocence were disregarded. The SDT found, in effect, that Mr Miller and Mr Gore became too concerned about making the scheme profitable for themselves and their firm. Their judgment became distorted and they pursued the scheme regardless of the impact on the people receiving the letters and even of their own clients.On August 1, the SDT held a second hearing to decide on the appropriate punishment; the result was severe. Each man received a £20,000 fine, they had to pay the SRA's own costs of roughly £150,000, and both were suspended from the practice of law for three months.According to the Law Society Gazette, the two men plan to appeal the entire case against them.Next up?Davenport Lyons got out of the game in 2009, in part due to comments like this from former client Atari. "We believed that Davenport Lyons' methods were totally reliable and accurate," Atari told the BBC in 2008. "We were shocked and extremely disappointed when we found that they had incorrectly accused one household of illegal copying. As a direct result we told Davenport Lyons to take no further action on our behalf."But the scheme was taken over with gusto by down-on-his-luck London lawyer Andrew Crossley, who generated so much bad will he was vilified in the House of Lords and then had his site hacked and his e-mails released by Anonymous (hint: don't use £5.99 Web hosting when you run a delicate business). Crossley then ran into trouble when he tried to actually sue a few people, then tried to dismiss the case when it didn't go well, then got shellacked by the judge: "I want to tell you that I am not happy. I am getting the impression with every twist and turn since I started looking at these cases that there is a desire to avoid any judicial scrutiny."Crossley finally closed up shop altogether—but not before he too was investigated by the SRA. He faces his own tribunal hearing this fall.