We win access to justice

SOME TIME in 2012, according to an announcement by the government's Intellectual Property Office on 16 November, a "Small Claims" court will be available to anyone wanting to pursue breaches of copyright worth £5000 or less.

This will, we hope, help close a loophole for those who infringe your copyright. The NUJ first proposed a small claims court in its evidence to the Gowers Review of copyright law back in 2006.

We drew attention to the case of a member who had gone to the normal Small Claims court to claim £400, only to have the case "booted upstairs" to Patents County Court. There she won, but was ordered to pay the losing side's costs of £2000 on the basis that the action she had taken was disproportionate to her claim. So she was out of pocket £1600. In 2008 the Civil Procedure Rules for England and Wales were amended so that Small Claims Courts would not hear "copyright cases" at all.

The new procedure will be a "track" of the Patents County Court and District Judges are being trained not to be puzzled by copyright. The NUJ continues to campaign for more effective enforcement of members' copyright, including raising the bar for damages beyond what you would have charged the infringer, had they asked nicely in the first place.

Last modified: 06 Dec 2011 - © 2011 contributors
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