Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

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  1. #1
    Basic Account Holder Miss Iamangry Novitiate

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    Default How Can I Sue DWP?

    I want to sue the DWP for incorrectly prosecuting me and for the loss of my job. I have outlined my situation below.....has anyone done this or know how to go about it?

    I am just getting over a rotten experience with the DWP. I have a disabled daughter and I claim careers allowance for her. initially I could not work but was able to return to work part time when she was 2 and a half years old. When returning to work I contacted tax credits to advise of my return to work and to advise my new salary. I advised them that I was claiming careers allowance.

    Some benefits stopped but careers was still paid so I assumed I was under the working allowance threshold. Two years later I was prosecuted and taken to court because the call to tax credits was the wrong phone no to advise careers and careers had continued paying me when I was no longer eligible.

    I paid the overdue back in full immediately. I argued in court that the tax credits is the phone no to call for most other benefits including DLA and that their brochures encourages you tall call tax credits. So I thought that I was calling the correct phone no and that I had let the rights agencies know I was back at work. I also argued that my NI no was given by myself and I was under no illusion that this would indicate to all benefits that I was working. I won my case after only minutes of the magistrates deliberation. The prosecutor also admitted that this should never have come to court.

    However, previous to the court date, the DWP contacted my workplace of 25yrs to advise I was being prosecuted for fraud. I was suspended. I argued that I should not have been suspended as I was not prosecuted for company fraud, I was pleading not guilty and that it was a personal matter separate from my workplace. However due to this suspension for fraud, my reputation at work was damaged and I could no longer work effectively and handed in my notice.

    Can anyone tell me if they think I have a case to sue the DWP for wrongly deciding to prosecute and for compensation for the loss of my job, compensation for stress etc.?



    Thanks for any help out there!



    Miss Iamangry


  2. #2
    Basic Account Holder jippity Novitiate

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    Default Re: How Can I Sue DWP?

    Hello

    Honestly, I don't know. And that's not to say that I don't think you have a right to sue them, because I very strongly think you do. But I am not legal-minded. My advice would be to seek proper legal advice.

    Best of luck, what a dreadful experience!


  3. #3
    Basic Account Holder SKJP Novitiate

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    Default Re: How Can I Sue DWP?

    I'm struggling to understand exactly how this prosecution was wrongful (not because I don't believe and support you, but because there are a couple of points that catch my attention).

    You should never rely on Tax Credits to pass on any relevant information to DCS (Disability & Carers Service). This is because Tax Credits are administered by HMRC, whereas DCS benefits are administered by the DWP. HMRC and the DWP have little more than a passing relationship when it comes to the administration of their respective affairs and benefits. They don't share absolutely everything with each other, never have, and probably never will. In a sense, it'd be like contacting British Gas to tell them you've moved homes for the purposes of your gas bill, and expecting them to pass on the info to NPower for the purposes of your electricity bill...

    I argued in court that the tax credits is the phone no to call for most other benefits including DLA and that their brochures encourages you tall call tax credits.
    Whilst I'm very glad you successfully argued your case, the above is incorrect, and if you'll excuse me, a little bizarre too. Dig out any letter from any DWP benefit you have/have had, and you'll find contact details for the purposes of reporting changes in circumstances. These contact details will not be for HMRC/Tax Credits.

    However, you may be onto something with this:

    However, previous to the court date, the DWP contacted my workplace of 25yrs to advise I was being prosecuted for fraud.
    This is potentially quite naughty, but it depends on the exact circumstances. In cases of benefit fraud, it is common for the authorities to contact employers (for instance, to establish how much you earn(ed), how long you've worked there, etc.). There is nothing wrong with the DWP doing this, but as far as I'm aware (and I do not speak as a legal professional), they're not necessarily supposed to reveal the exact details of your case to your employer. They should collect the facts, and that's it. If the DWP has simply collected facts from your employer, they're not at fault. If they've specifically informed your employer that you were subject to a benefit fraud investigation, they may be in the wrong. If your employer simply guessed/surmised that it was to do with benefit fraud, then the DWP is not necessarily at fault.

    My advice would be to consult with a solicitor to see if there's a case, and on what grounds. You need to be clear about the facts, though.

    All the best of luck.


  4. #4
    Basic Account Holder jippity Novitiate

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    Default Re: How Can I Sue DWP?

    Quote Originally Posted by SKJP View Post
    I'm struggling to understand exactly how this prosecution was wrongful (not because I don't believe and support you, but because there are a couple of points that catch my attention).

    You should never rely on Tax Credits to pass on any relevant information to DCS (Disability & Carers Service). This is because Tax Credits are administered by HMRC, whereas DCS benefits are administered by the DWP. HMRC and the DWP have little more than a passing relationship when it comes to the administration of their respective affairs and benefits. They don't share absolutely everything with each other, never have, and probably never will. In a sense, it'd be like contacting British Gas to tell them you've moved homes for the purposes of your gas bill, and expecting them to pass on the info to NPower for the purposes of your electricity bill...
    That's not strictly true, whenever I've had a change in circumstances with any benefit I have called Tax Credits to let them know and they have told me that there is no need as DWP will inform them of any changes. I have always rung to be on the safe side, but I can see where confusion and the assumption that all information is shared would originate.


  5. #5
    Basic Account Holder SKJP Novitiate

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    Default Re: How Can I Sue DWP?

    Quote Originally Posted by jippity View Post
    That's not strictly true, whenever I've had a change in circumstances with any benefit I have called Tax Credits to let them know and they have told me that there is no need as DWP will inform them of any changes. I have always rung to be on the safe side, but I can see where confusion and the assumption that all information is shared would originate.
    Yes, I see your point, and also very much understand where the confusion comes from (especially since all depts. have your NINO, too, as OP points out). The fact is that in reality, the system doesn't run so smoothly, and should not be relied upon...hence why DWP benefit letters will always contain DWP-specific contact details for the purposes of reporting any changes.

    OP states that they were encouraged to contact TC to report of changes to DWP benefits, via brochures and such. In my experience, such brochures don't do this, but again it's easy to see how and why mistakes can easily arise, especially in the current situation where many "benefit" claimants are expected to maintain relationships with at least three different gov. departments - HMRC, DWP and their local council.

    It's always sad to see these innocent mistakes effectively twisted against claimants and used to push forward flimsy prosecutions...if I were a magistrate in this case, I'd wonder why - if the OP was so 'fraudulent' - they went through the trouble of contacting HMRC, but not the DWP!


  6. #6
    Basic Account Holder jippity Novitiate

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    Default Re: How Can I Sue DWP?

    You're right, it's always best to inform the different departments, and you're also right that they will argue that they would never advise to call TC. But it's still worth taking legal advice. Afterall, the OP did pay the money back before it went to court and she did own up to the fact that she got confused. It is sad, that one mistake could have cost her job. I mean if she wanted to work illegally and claim benefits there are far less risky ways to do that.

    As you have said, the magistrate probably did consider that OP took the time to contact HMRC and obviously some information trickled through as her other benefits stopped. I think that may be where her legal argument lies (but likewise, I am not trained), in that the information *was* passed on to the other department but the error was theirs, and to cover that up they've persecuted her and cost her her livlihood. I'm in agreement that it is very sad indeed.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: How Can I Sue DWP?

    It does state on any letters from DWP (never received anything from HMRC; so can't comment) that the customer must inform them of any changes. I have never relied on one department to inform another.


  8. #8
    Basic Account Holder jippity Novitiate

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    Default Re: How Can I Sue DWP?

    No, I don't rely on them either, they clearly can't be trusted. But for some benefits to have stopped when OP started work (assuming not just tax credits) then the DWP must have been informed somehow.


  9. #9
    Basic Account Holder Heidi Rees Novitiate

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    Default Re: How Can I Sue DWP?

    I have found that every time I have put in a change of circumstances (change of address etc) they have always told me that they are all interconnected and will pass the info on! I being very cautious in nature have always informed them all anyway - better safe than sorry - and I'm glad I have now after seeing this. If you do it yourself the call is logged and there is no chance for human error!


  10. #10
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    Default Re: How Can I Sue DWP?

    Innocent until proven guilty.

    Had your work been concerned they should have suspended you.

    How long had you been back at work?

    I think your best initial action is to speak to your MP mentioning you are now presumably being paid public money by the DWP, after calls made by DWP ended your being a hard working mother.



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