A legal firm that sent 'bullying' letters to Brits accused of illegal downloading could be forced to fork out thousands in wasted costs.

ACS:Law sent out thousands of letters to web users in the UK, claiming the recipient was guilty of illegally downloading music and video files from the web. The letter ordered the recipient to either pay compensation or face legal action.

The legal firm ended up pursuing action against 27 web users, but in January this year, the accused received letters claiming the cases were being dropped and the legal action would not take place - a move that initially requires approval from the judge presiding over the case, something which had not been gained.

ACS:Law and MediaCAT, which was working in conjunction with the legal firm and had been given the go-ahead by a number of copyright holders to pursue copyright infringement on their behalf, then ceased trading at the end of January, just days before a judgement on a case was due. Judge Birss, who was presiding over the case, officially closed the case last month. He has since ordered a full hearing into the cases, to identify whether ACS:Law, which he called "amateurish and slipshod", should take responsibility for the costs incurred by the legal action.