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Royal Mail - Penetrating the purported 'immunity'


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Dear Friends

Background

Further to this thread, I hope it would be useful to anyone seeking to mount a legal attack on Royal Mail, to do so with the combined knowledge, experience and support of the learned members of this board. I invite all who are interested to join in the discussion - and most importantly, to bring something to the table with you.

Before posting

Please start your own individual thread if you have a specific scenario in which you require specific help. You can always attract the attention of members who are commenting on this thread by sending them a PM with your links.

 

The common law crutches

It would seem that Royal Mail are fixated on the following three cases, and regularly attempt to use them almost regardless of context or situation:

 

Triefus & Co Ltd v Post Office [1957]

Gouriet v Union of Post Office Workers [1977]

Harold Stephens & Co Ltd and Others v The Post Office [1977]

 

In my view, these cases appear to have very little technical relevance whatsoever, in terms of the applicable judicial reasoning in each of the respective judgments, to the majority of claims in breach of contract or potential tort which are brought against Royal Mail by a private individual.

 

Our route forward

The more that we all join together to discuss the detail of these matters openly with the aim of pulling apart the untruths which are perpetuated in our public courts by the unscrupulous lawyers employed by Royal Mail in defence of their frequently indefensible and wholly unacceptable conduct then the better for us all and for the future of honest litigants seeking justice against the sub-standard British postal service monopoly.

 

Thank you.

Edited by Mr Pipps
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Allow me to start proceedings with a preliminary analysis of 'Gouriet v Union of Post Office Workers [1977]'.

 

I have been able to identify a publicly available copy of the transcript here. Please give it a read. (Ok then, at least the introductory paragraphs and the case summary!)

 

My first thought here, is that as Royal Mail repeatedly quote the 1977 judgment, and so I can only assume that they deliberately ignore the fact that this case was appealed immediately by the unfortunate Plaintiff, and at the Court of Appeal none other than the venerable Lord Denning laid a remarkable comprehensive criticism of the matters in the previous High Court hearing in point.

 

So firstly, we are dealing with an overturned case, here.

 

Secondly, as you will readily see from the opening summary and the material facts, it is immediately apparent that the case is concerned with a very singular set of circumstances concerning a Royal Mail union boycott of post received from South Africa during the period of apartheid. The Plaintiff's application is clearly of a nature which is unlikely to be materially similar in any way to the sort of cases in which members of this forum, and indeed members of the public at large today, are likely to find themselves seeking recourse and remedy from Royal Mail.

 

Let's all give the judgment a closer read and come up with any points which would make it less than relevant for attempting to evidence Royal Mail's supposed 'immunity'.

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In my opinion, the only important statement in the Gouriet (1977) judgment is the following, in the penultimate paragraph:

 

the plaintiff has in my opinion no legal right enforceable by proceedings before any court to enjoy the services of the Post Office. That seems to me to follow from the provisions of section 9(4) and section 29(1) and (2) of the Post Office Act 1969.
Well that's fine. I should think that nobody would dispute that a private individual has no 'right' to receive postal services. I am sure very few people in modern circumstances ever attempt to suggest such a thing. And so for people who have entered into separate contracts with Royal Mail for other separately identifiable services then the matter would then appear to be rather different.
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In my opinion, the only important statement in the Gouriet (1977) judgment is the following, in the penultimate paragraph:

 

Well that's fine. I should think that nobody would dispute that a private individual has no 'right' to receive postal services. I am sure very few people in modern circumstances ever attempt to suggest such a thing. And so for people who have entered into separate contracts with Royal Mail for other separately identifiable services then the matter would then appear to be rather different.

 

s.9 of the 1969 Act - relating to the Powers and Duties of the Post Office - was repealed by the British Telecommunications Act 1981.

 

s.29 - relating to limitations of liability - was repealed by the Postal Service Act 2000.

 

So I would argue that the Gouriet judgement is no longer good law.

Edited by patdavies
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Hello Pat

 

It's a pleasure to have your company. Thank you for your post!

 

I would agree with you entirely in everything you have said. Gouriet cannot be good law under these circumstances. Of course, I suppose it could still be valid good law if the relevant provisions of the Post Office Act 1969 had since been reinstated in a subsequent Act. But no such reinstatement would appear to have taken place. The Postal Services Act 2000 appears to have no mention of contractual relations. Section 90(1) of the action mentions tort. But restricts itself only to this. And my endeavours here are not concerned with tort.

 

Therefore, as you rightly say Pat, the judgment clearly relies on a statute which has since been rescinded, and with no direct replacement re-enacted. So how can this legislation still be good law? It can't!

 

So in summary, so far, Gouriet has fallen over on two grounds:

1. Not on all fours with my case or any likely modern case in the UK at this time.

2. The judgment relies on a no longer extant statute and is therefore bad law.

 

Please let me know if you think there is any flaw in my logic so far.

 

Now, if only someone could find a copy of the Triefus judgment! :)

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  • 5 months later...

Hi Mr Pipps,

 

I am planning to sue Royal Mail on Tuesday for not delivering an item overseas. Whilst one may claim that it could not be entirely their fault, my contention is that they sold me the service, so I can't sue the Israeli Postal Service.

 

The service used was overseas signedfor. My contention is that the service is not a usual postal service, like 1st or 2nd class post, and is offered by a variety of providers, therefore not covered by the RM indemnity. I contend that the indemnity only covers postal services that are not freely available.

 

Furthermore, any terms were not specified before entering into the contract, but only after receiving the receipt - at which point only one term relating to the maximum compensation they will pay. I believe that that contravenes various rulings that important terms must be made clear prior to entry of the contract.

 

Anybody got anything to add, or any advice to give?

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Hi Legalpickle

 

It's good to hear about your proceedings with Royal Mail. I bet they have sent you a bundle, quoting the same irrelevant court cases, too?

 

It is a very strange and very unfair situation with Royal Mail. I think you have a very good point about terms. However, if I were Royal Mail, I would argue that as the only 'terms' which ever apply are in fact legislation, then no further terms even need to be stated at the time of entering into contracts. The unfortunate thing, is that technically, we are all supposed to know about Royal Mail's total immunity in both contract and tort. 'Ignorance is no defence', and all that. So unfair, but technically it would hold.

 

I achieved a partial win my case against Royal Mail. Royal Mail were directed to repay to me the £30 for the postal redirection services which I never received, and my court costs and the MCOL fee, which I incurred in issuing the claim. Technically, the decision which I achieved is highly irregular. However, I believe I deserved it. I didn't win my damages, though. I dropped that proportion of my claim on the morning of the hearing, as by that stage I was convinced that Gloucester County Court were not doing to make ground-breaking new precedent. I think I was right to take this approach.

 

But back to your case. I appreciate that Royal Mail is the only party that you can pursue here. But I feel that if pressed, they would argue that the legislation which governs their services is not something which they would be required to disclose, as it is statutory - ie it is the law of the land.

 

Though if it were my case, I would still pursue them regardless - making sure they incur a nice sum of expenses, in bad faith, of course. Royal Mail are a bunch of crooks, and their total lack of responsibility for everything they regularly do wrong would be criminal in a more civilised country. Yet even though these crooks are wholly owned by Consignia PLC, they still enjoy total immunity, and employ the most unprofessional legal team I have ever seen.

 

I don't think you will win your damages. But I admire you for being another man who is standing up and being counted for by making a statement against our criminal postal service.

 

Good luck!

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Hi Legalpickle

 

It's good to hear about your proceedings with Royal Mail. I bet they have sent you a bundle, quoting the same irrelevant court cases, too?

 

It is a very strange and very unfair situation with Royal Mail. I think you have a very good point about terms. However, if I were Royal Mail, I would argue that as the only 'terms' which ever apply are in fact legislation, then no further terms even need to be stated at the time of entering into contracts. The unfortunate thing, is that technically, we are all supposed to know about Royal Mail's total immunity in both contract and tort. 'Ignorance is no defence', and all that. So unfair, but technically it would hold.

 

I achieved a partial win my case against Royal Mail. Royal Mail were directed to repay to me the £30 for the postal redirection services which I never received, and my court costs and the MCOL fee, which I incurred in issuing the claim. Technically, the decision which I achieved is highly irregular. However, I believe I deserved it. I didn't win my damages, though. I dropped that proportion of my claim on the morning of the hearing, as by that stage I was convinced that Gloucester County Court were not doing to make ground-breaking new precedent. I think I was right to take this approach.

 

But back to your case. I appreciate that Royal Mail is the only party that you can pursue here. But I feel that if pressed, they would argue that the legislation which governs their services is not something which they would be required to disclose, as it is statutory - ie it is the law of the land.

 

Though if it were my case, I would still pursue them regardless - making sure they incur a nice sum of expenses, in bad faith, of course. Royal Mail are a bunch of crooks, and their total lack of responsibility for everything they regularly do wrong would be criminal in a more civilised country. Yet even though these crooks are wholly owned by Consignia PLC, they still enjoy total immunity, and employ the most unprofessional legal team I have ever seen.

 

I don't think you will win your damages. But I admire you for being another man who is standing up and being counted for by making a statement against our criminal postal service.

 

Good luck!

I think there is a misunderstanding. I haven't issued my claim yet. I am planning to issue it on Tuesday.

 

The damages are the costs I incurred by using DHL as they lost the stuff I was sending. The stuff was a repair kit for a watch I had given a friend, and was free from Accurist because the watch was in warranty. Despite RM botching up, Accurist agreed to send me a replacement. I felt I could no longer trust RM to deliver it and as it would take at least 6 days with RM, and they had already botched up, I was not going to leave it another 6 days till he had a watch.

 

Is there any legislation or anything else I should be aware of or quote?

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:!: All the information I impart is my advice based on my experience. It does not constitute professional advice. If in doubt, always consult with a professional. :!:

 

:-) If you feel my post has been helpful, please click my scales. :-)

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Sorry for the minor misunderstanding. But I cannot add any more to what I have already said. I hope you still stick it to Royal Mail!

No problemo.

 

Thanks for rooting for me!

 

Any constructive advice, from anybody, will be welcome.

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:!: All the information I impart is my advice based on my experience. It does not constitute professional advice. If in doubt, always consult with a professional. :!:

 

:-) If you feel my post has been helpful, please click my scales. :-)

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The service used was overseas signedfor. My contention is that the service is not a usual postal service, like 1st or 2nd class post, and is offered by a variety of providers, therefore not covered by the RM indemnity. I contend that the indemnity only covers postal services that are not freely available.

 

Furthermore, any terms were not specified before entering into the contract, but only after receiving the receipt - at which point only one term relating to the maximum compensation they will pay. I believe that that contravenes various rulings that important terms must be made clear prior to entry of the contract.

 

Anybody got anything to add, or any advice to give?

 

I would suggest replacing the words in red above with "..part of a universal postal service,..."

 

RM is the universal postal service provider for UK and I think that that alone gives them certain immunities; but the service that you contracted is not a part of the universal postal servcie and thus outwith those immunities. UPS is what they are required to provide by statute; any other services are over and above this

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pat davies is correct

 

universal postel operator is for the whole of the uk

thats it

 

point to note

 

postcom is now defunked, it all comes under the oft

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hi mr pipps

 

any sort of inside info or direct questions needed,

ill see what i can do, being an inside man to speak of

Mr Pipps has succeeded in a claim against RM. If you read the thread, you'll see that I'm planning to sue them on Tuesday.

 

Any actual information that could help my claim - relevant details of which are above - would be appreciated from anybody, and who knows, maybe it'll help others as well.

 

I would suggest replacing the words in red above with "..part of a universal postal service,..."

 

RM is the universal postal service provider for UK and I think that that alone gives them certain immunities; but the service that you contracted is not a part of the universal postal servcie and thus outwith those immunities. UPS is what they are required to provide by statute; any other services are over and above this

Thanx for clarifying it Pat. You've put it better than I could have done, even though that's what I meant!

 

Any other guidance or advice to help me with this claim would be much appreciated.

 

pat davies is correct

 

universal postel operator is for the whole of the uk

thats it

 

point to note

 

postcom is now defunked, it all comes under the oft

Since when? According to their website Postcomm is still very much in action. I think this:

http://www.psc.gov.uk/postcomm/live/policy-and-consultations/consultations/competition--working-arrangements-with-the-office-of-fair-trading/121304MemorandumofUnderstandingbetweenPostcommandth.pdf

may have misled you. But Postcomm is still the postal regulator unless something's happened in the past few days that hasn't been published in the news.

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:!: All the information I impart is my advice based on my experience. It does not constitute professional advice. If in doubt, always consult with a professional. :!:

 

:-) If you feel my post has been helpful, please click my scales. :-)

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just had my local piece of union propaganda

it states it in that

I very much doubt it is accurate. Postcomm is the Postal Services Commission. I seriously doubt that that quango is going to be axed, at least not by this government.

 

There's nothing on the websites of Postcomm or the OFT, and I don't believe that either, who both - like the rest of this "government" - thrive on any "news" they can give, would leave such information out of the public domain.

 

What exactly did it say in your union propaganda?

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:!: All the information I impart is my advice based on my experience. It does not constitute professional advice. If in doubt, always consult with a professional. :!:

 

:-) If you feel my post has been helpful, please click my scales. :-)

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Pat Davies is a genius! It sounds like you might have a way in, there!

 

Also, I only partially succeeded with my claim. I didn't ultimately pursue or receive any damages. Damages are the sticking point, with immunities of this nature.

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Pat Davies is a genius! It sounds like you might have a way in, there!

Yes, but for putting what I was trying to say more clearly.

 

Also, I only partially succeeded with my claim. I didn't ultimately pursue or receive any damages. Damages are the sticking point, with immunities of this nature.

"Damages" is a complicated word. People use it to cover consequential losses, loss of earnings, compensation and non-consequential losses. I am claiming consequential losses. I am not claiming compensation or any "damages" in general.

 

I consider that consequential losses are not actually "damages" and that the word "damages" is misused and should actually cover compensation and loss of earnings - as it is primarily claimed for in RTA claims, which is what it is used to mean in those claims.

 

So what were you claiming that you succeeded with, and what were you claiming that you dropped?

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:!: All the information I impart is my advice based on my experience. It does not constitute professional advice. If in doubt, always consult with a professional. :!:

 

:-) If you feel my post has been helpful, please click my scales. :-)

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Yes, you quite are right. Consequential losses is a far more accurate term. Let's stick with that! :)

 

As I think I mentioned, I was successfully in being awarded a reimbursement of the £30 which I had originally paid for the postal redirection services - the services which Royal Mail never even bothered to provide. I also received an award for my costs of bringing the proceedings - the proceedings which forced Royal Mail to actually take note of my complaint, which they had until that point refused to do.

 

The directly foreseeable consequential losses which I dropped in the end was the train tickets and the professional time foregone which I suffered as a result of being forced to take time out of my working schedule to travel back to me previous dwelling to collect the post which was not being redirected.

 

These would have been losses which could only have been claimed as a result of a breach of contract. And a breach of contract, is something which the legislature has so generously allowed Royal Mail to remain immune from, for the foreseeable future.

 

You should definitely check the point on whether or not the specific services which you paid for fall within the 'Universal' Postal Services framework. This would appear to be a key point in determining whether or not you may have a case which could be a runner. Good luck!

 

Edit: 'Universal' - thank you for the correction! :)

Edited by Mr Pipps
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Yes, you quite are right. Consequential losses is a far more accurate term. Let's stick with that! :)

 

As I think I mentioned, I was successfully in being awarded a reimbursement of the £30 which I had originally paid for the postal redirection services - the services which Royal Mail never even bothered to provide. I also received an award for my costs of bringing the proceedings - the proceedings which forced Royal Mail to actually take note of my complaint, which they had until that point refused to do.

 

The directly foreseeable consequential losses which I dropped in the end was the train tickets and the professional time foregone which I suffered as a result of being forced to take time out of my working schedule to travel back to me previous dwelling to collect the post which was not being redirected.

 

These would have been losses which could only have been claimed as a result of a breach of contract. And a breach of contract, is something which the legislature has so generously allowed Royal Mail to remain immune from, for the foreseeable future.

 

You should definitely check the point on whether or not the specific services which you paid for fall within the United Postal Services framework. This would appear to be a key point in determining whether or not you may have a case which could be a runner. Good luck!

My definition of something that falls within the Universal (why you've written 'United' is beyond me!) Postal Services framework is something that is not freely available from other providers.

 

So, sending something overseas by a signed for type of service is available freely from DHL, UPS, FedEx and numerous others, therefore in my opinion doesn't fall within that category.

 

However sending post 1st class & 2nd class is not freely available - to consumers sending less than several thousand items of post a week - therefore does fall in that category.

 

Your claim would have been complicated. I think the questions that need to be asked are?

1. Is this service necessary to provide a postal service accessible to everyone?

2. Does another company offer this service to the public?

 

If the answer to the first is Yes and second is No then it falls into the category of Universal Postal Service.

 

If the answer to the first is No, or the answer to the second is Yes then it doesn't, and should be claimable for under normal breach of contract.

 

I contend that my service comes under Yes for 1 and Yes for 2, so should be claimable for under normal breach of contract.

 

Edit: Another problem with your claim, is that you did not mitigate your losses, which is a duty upon all parties to court proceedings, even prior to such proceedings. I am sure you could have found somebody local to where you used to live, to whom you could have sent the keys by special delivery and could have sent you all the post back with the keys by special delivery. I reckon that would have cost you around £15.

Edited by legalpickle
tiredness

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:!: All the information I impart is my advice based on my experience. It does not constitute professional advice. If in doubt, always consult with a professional. :!:

 

:-) If you feel my post has been helpful, please click my scales. :-)

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I could not comment on the 'Universal' Postal Services criteria. But I wish you all the best in your research into this very rarified topic!

 

Edit: Another problem with your claim, is that you did not mitigate your losses, which is a duty upon all parties to court proceedings, even prior to such proceedings. I am sure you could have found somebody local to where you used to live, to whom you could have sent the keys by special delivery and could have sent you all the post back with the keys by special delivery. I reckon that would have cost you around £15.

With respect to your final statement, may I respectfully suggest that your comment is utterly absurd, totally uninformed, and entirely incorrect on every count.

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I could not comment on the 'Universal' Postal Services criteria. But I wish you all the best in your research into this very rarified topic!

Thanks. But do you think that is a reasonable definition?

 

With respect to your final statement, may I respectfully suggest that your comment is utterly absurd, totally uninformed, and entirely incorrect on every count.

Firstly, I never meant to offend you with that statement. If I did, I apologize.

 

Secondly, please advise which part of that statement was utterly absurd, totally uninformed and entirely incorrect? The duty of parties to mitigate their losses is certainly not. This has been ruled in numerous claims, several of which I have been involved in. I have helped people defend from 90% of some claims due to the fact that the Claimant did not take reasonable steps to mitigate their losses.

 

If the part of my statement saying that you travelling by train to and from your old address and losing time off work was not mitigating losses, as you probably could have sent the keys to somebody near where you used to live and had them send the letters and keys back was wrong, please explain how. I always want to learn.

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:!: All the information I impart is my advice based on my experience. It does not constitute professional advice. If in doubt, always consult with a professional. :!:

 

:-) If you feel my post has been helpful, please click my scales. :-)

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I am not your teacher.

 

And from your comments, it is evident that you are not legally qualified.

 

So please don't try to re-teach me Contract Law 101.

 

And please don't try to advise me on personal circumstances which you know absolutely nothing about.

 

You overstepped the mark of forum etiquette. That is the first thing you should learn.

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For your continued education, here is how the conversation should have gone:

 

Pipps: I had to take time off work to travel to my previous home to collect my post.

 

Pickle: Weren't such costs unreasonable?

 

Pipps: No,the costs were entirely necessary under the circumstances. I could evidence that.

 

Pickle: Right you are, then!

 

They call that, a civilised conversation. Ie - where one person doesn't make uninformed assumptions about the other's circumstances.

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