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Censorship United Kingdom Your Rights Online

Firm Threatens To Sue Consumer Websites For Harrassment 105

An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports that RLP, a legal firm that sues shoplifters on behalf of retail groups, has shown its ignorance of the Streisand Effect by attempting to censor The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and other consumer websites. RLP has accused CAB of harassment and is demanding that they and other consumer websites remove all 'defamatory posts' and publications. This is the latest salvo in a long running battle and although organizations like CAG (Consumer Action Group) have removed some offending posts, CAB and the Legal Beagles website are refusing to remove content and have accused RLP of trying to stifle reporting of adverse court judgments against them."
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Firm Threatens To Sue Consumer Websites For Harrassment

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  • meritocracy my ass. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:20AM (#40477231) Homepage Journal

    Another example how some new mega-powered version of the Peter principle is pushing all the idiots to the heads of these organizations. There seems to be incompetency in the top level of every organization right now.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28, 2012 @08:36AM (#40477339)

    Well, there could be plenty wrong with it if it's handled improperly. For instance, suing people civilly after they've been let off criminally because the evidence was sketchy. TFA mentions a particular case where "RLP's client lost and the judge criticised the legal basis of its case". It also mentions the judge thought they were asking for too much money (though it was only for £137.50, which, even if they only stole a £5 item, doesn't really seem like much when you consider time, legal fees, and punitive damages...though I'm not familiar with UK law)

  • by 6031769 ( 829845 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @09:57AM (#40477977) Homepage Journal

    Except that they catch probably 1% of all shoplifters, so that the single miscreant would get fined 100 times the cost of what they stole, which seems to deny equity.

    That would be a valid point if shoplifting were just a harmless passtime. However, since it's a crime why not fine them 100 times the cost of what they stole? It might teach them not to do it again. If they only get fined what they steal that's precisely the same as them paying for it at the checkout but with the added bonus that they might well get away with it.

    If you can't do the time (or don't want to pay the fine), don't do the crime.

  • by dkf ( 304284 ) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Thursday June 28, 2012 @10:06AM (#40478099) Homepage

    Assuming that the show tries its best to catch all the shoplifters it can, it makes sense that if you steal something and the chance you'll get caught is 50% say, you'll have to pay twice the price. And you'll have to add in security costs as well, since otherwise it will come out of the pockets of actual paying customers.

    That's not how it works at all, at least in English law. The costs of the prosecution may be recovered (if reasonable) but the costs of detecting the theft in the first place may not. Often, the thief will admit other thefts at the same time (which will be "taken into consideration" during sentencing) but they cannot be punished for that which they were not proved to have done or which they did not admit in court; to do so would be unjust, no matter how convenient for law enforcement and companies.

    Fortunately, the vast majority of shoplifters don't just do it once and are thus relatively easy to catch. Most criminals are stupid.

  • by AlecC ( 512609 ) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Thursday June 28, 2012 @10:12AM (#40478169)

    So the punishment for a crime depends not on what you did, but on what others did? If you stole a candy bar, you should be punished for the unknown person who stole a diamond necklace?

    I agree about do the crime/do the time. But for your crimes, not someone else's. If it is right to fine someone 100 times the value for shoplifting, it is right whether they are the only shoplifter in town or one of a thousand. Making any punishment depend upon how many others are doing it is unfair.

  • by AlecC ( 512609 ) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Thursday June 28, 2012 @11:17AM (#40478859)

    "The punishment should fit the crime". Yes, life is unfair. The whole point of the justice system is to try and bring some fairness to it. If the justice system is perceived as unfair, it loses all legitimacy. The whole point of having prosecution and defence attorneys, juries, rules of evidence etc. is seen to be scrupulously fair. If you then say, basically, that punishment is a lottery: it depends not on what you did, but on what others you know nothing about did, you undermine the whole principle of justice.

    And shoplifting is not a collective action: people usually do it individually. If people work as teams, perhaps distracting assistants while an accomplice steals, that is collective action and both should be punished for the crime, But collective punishments generally are regarded as uncivilised and (inter alias) banned by the Geneva Convention.

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev