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A controversial law firm that sent letters to alleged illegal file sharers has been told it cannot drop its cases to "avoid public scrutiny".
ACS:Law contacted thousands of people accusing them of illegally downloading movies and songs and demanding payments of £500 to avoid court action.
Cases against 26 of them proceeded, before the company attempted to pull out of prosecution at the last minute.
Now a judge had criticised the firm for its methods.
"I cannot imagine a system better designed to create disincentives to test the issues in court," said Judge Ian Birss at the Patents County Court in London.