Here's what went down at court - tried to make it shorter, but a lot was covered and a lot was said!
Got into the County Court and was listed first.
Their rep came to me and said they would have a reconstituted agreement through in a few minutes and would I like to settle out of court. I said no, I'll take my chances with the Judge.
Got into the room and the Judge said, we've got an interesting case here. And I've read all the documentation with interest. He made special mention of my bundle and how concise it was. He also mentioned that he wanted to question the date in 2015 of one of my letters and I said that was the very first s78 request - that has not been complied with to date. He said so you've requested this information on 2 separate occasions and (to their rep) your client still has not come up with the information.
He then said to the claimants rep that they had a bit of a mountain to climb to change his mind based on everything he'd read.
They asked for an adjournment as they wanted to introduce a reconstituted agreement and he could show the Judge the first page of it on his laptop. After the Judge finished laughing (figuratively) he said no to the adjournment and no to them introducing the reconstituted agreement. His reasoning behind this was that they'd had over 2 years to provide the evidence and it was wholly unacceptable that they come into his Court on the morning and expect him to accept it. Half way through the Hearing the Clerk came in and said they'd just revived a fax from Howard Cohen, the Judge said you can bring it in but I'm still not going to allow it.
We then went through where their case had merits and where they failed.
Their rep argued the information in the WS was enough to meet the requirements of Section 78. The Judge said no it didn't by a long shot. The Judge said their evidence failed on all 3 sections of Section 78(1) and even if they wanted to appeal, he'd not allow it because they'd not met (in his opinion) the balance of probabilities.
This is when their rep brought out the Carey vs HSBC card. The Judge said the Carey case had clarified that the court has the power to declare whether there has or hasn’t been a breach of section 78 and each case will be considered on its own facts. My case was much more straight forward he said - they'd not complied. Simple.
I then mentioned about the NOA apparently served with the wrong address and he said that worried him immensely. But he didn't think it was done with any malice but it was a copy of a copy of something else. He also said that their WS was a bit like Chinese whispers, this person said that to that person and then that person did a statement of truth in court. He wasn't prepared to accept that.
We then went onto argue about the template default notice, and Section 87. He said a screen shot of a computer screen saying that it had been done and enclosing a template into evidence was not enough to convince him that it was even sent. He said that he didn't doubt that HSBC had done it, but there was no evidence to prove it. Their rep tried to say that they didn't have to prove it but the Judge said in my Court you do. He said I have to be satisfied that you have done everything possible to get this notice to the defendant.
Their rep then said that because I'd paid initially that was my admission that I owed the money. I said that I'd never said that I don't owe the money. I was questioning to whom I owe it. Prove I owe you it and I'll pay. They then went on to state that the timeline of letters was again proof and I said that was when I sent the initial s78 and with no response after a few months I felt, legally, I could withhold payment until they complied. The Judge agreed.
So, in closing he said that if they produce a s78 & s87 in the future then I would still be liable. Case dismissed.
He then went onto award costs due to their unreasonable behaviour, using CPR Rule 27.14(2)(g). Siting that these bulk buying of debts was common place, buying at very low cost and then going for costs and interest further pushed people who were already desperate up against the wall was unacceptable and awarded me costs.