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    • Thank you everyone for your quick responses I just wish I posted here in the first place    I probably shouldn't have filled in the claim form however on the letter it said I had limited time to do so and because I was dealing with CST law trying to come to an agreement with paying off the debt I didn't think it would get to this point and now I have probably made my situation worst. Of course, I would have posted here first before sending it off had I not been in communication with CST to set up an agreement.    I sent the letter back to the court as some point in early August, the issue date on the claim form is 28th July and the most recent letter I have received 'Notice of fast track' is dated 18th November    If I am honest I can't fully remember what I wrote word for word in my defence, it would have been along the lines of why I left, my reasons and the fact I returned to my old career in an office plus taking a pay cut to do so. There wasn't much room to write a long winded defence so I kept it relativity short.   The above document Andy has posted is the exact document I am now looking at very confused in what exactly I put where    I just want to re-iterate I never agreed with this money I owe due to the training bond but it has gone on for so long at this point I'm happy to set up a payment plan if the balance can get reduced or a small one off payment upfront and this is exactly what I was trying to do prior to receiving the most recent letter    I have had zero communication from CST law, Centrica advised me to deal with them directly and I was waiting for a response from CST with the offer we had put across to Centrica - I chased it multiple times the following weeks and they kept telling me they haven't had a response and when they do we'll contact you which they still have not   Ideally I would rather not give them any money however I feel like I am out of options at what I probably should have done years ago is attempt to get it reduced and set up a payment plan    Please let me know if I have missed any critical info out    Thanks again for everyones help    What is the claim for – the reason they have issued the claim? I left a British Gas apprenticeship within the first 12 months of starting and went back to my old career in an office , my reasons for leaving were down to the completely differant job role which I realised quikcly was not for me and it was impacting my mental health massively. The claim is for a training bond which was in a contract I signed based on a sliding scale Year 1 - £9,000 year 2 £6,000 year 3 £3,000     What is the total value of the claim? £13433    Have you received prior notice of a claim being issued pursuant to paragraph 3 of the PAPDC (Pre Action Protocol) ? Yes   Have you changed your address since the time at which the debt referred to in the claim was allegedly incurred? No  Is the claim for - a Bank Account (Overdraft) or credit card or loan or catalogue or mobile phone account? Training bond due to leaving an apprenticeship before 3 years    When did you enter into the original agreement before or after April 2007 ? After   Do you recall how you entered into the agreement...On line /In branch/By post ? They have sent me a virtually signed document with the contract   Is the debt showing on your credit reference files (Experian/Equifax /Etc...) ? No   Has the claim been issued by the original creditor or was the account assigned and it is the Debt purchaser who has issued the claim. Centrica are claimant, CST law are dealing and the court   Were you aware the account had been assigned – did you receive a Notice of Assignment? I believe so yes   Did you receive a Default Notice from the original creditor? I have had multiple letters like everyone else who has been on the forum over the years regarding this matter   Have you been receiving statutory notices headed “Notice of Sums in Arrears”  or " Notice of Arrears "– at least once a year ? I am unsure, but when I left I had contested the original claim as I was dealing directly with Centrica’s collection team and they never got back to me after the final email I had sent and didn’t hear anything until years down the line   Why did you cease payments? N/A   What was the date of your last payment? N/A   Was there a dispute with the original creditor that remains unresolved? Correct I oringinally contested what was owed back in 2017 and gave my reasons for leaving and I assumed the matter was closed   Did you communicate any financial problems to the original creditor and make any attempt to enter into a debt management plan? No  
    • OK thanks again Andy.   And understood 👍😉
    • Thank you for this. The first thing to be say is that this means that you are winning. It is pretty well unheard of in my experience for the bank to give way and finally return the money. The fact that they have done this under the threat of a judgement for breach of statutory duty indicates even more that they are worried about their position. Nowhere have they indicated that they have complied with the requirements of the Proceeds of Crime Act and informed the National crime agency. I don't believe they have and this is a very serious breach of statutory duty. Not only that it is a very serious breach of the FCA BCOBS regulations in that they are required to treat you fairly. Treating you fairly in this case means that they must comply with the rest of their statutory duties. It appears that they really haven't done this at all and that they have acted in an arbitrary way in disregard of the law and that they are hoping to get away with it. I find myself wondering how many other hundreds of people have been treated in exactly the same way – and you are probably the first ever to have stood up to them and to get them worried. I think I've already indicated that a press contact of mine in the Sunday Times would be very interested in this story. He has already run stories about the very poor standards applied by banks when deciding that their customers are involved in some fraudulent behaviour. The first thing to say about the letter which you have received is that they are trying to apply conditions to releasing your own money. It's your money and there should be no conditions and my suggestion is that you object to this. Secondly, not only are they threatening to continue to withhold your own money – but also they are saying that if they release it to you you will simply have the net figure without any kind of interest or compensation. It's clear that while they have had your money, they have invested it and earn money on it. They have probably been lending it out at between 16% and 20% and although the usual rate of interest is 8%, it seems to me that justice can only be served by repaying you your money plus the commercial rate of interest – at a compound rate. Normally the 8% is calculated at simple. Thirdly, they are not offering to pay you any compensation and clearly they are hoping to get away with it without any kind of sanction or not even a slap on the wrist.   Fourthly, they had the nerve to impose a seven day deadline. Don't worry about their deadline. It's a load of huff and puff. This is all part of their bluff game designed to intimidate you. At the end of seven days – what? Are they then going to insist on going to court?   If they really believe that they had done everything correctly and that the money was fraudulent, then they would not offer it to you back under any circumstances. It would be illegal for them to do so. You can be certain that these people do not want to go to court. In fact they probably wish they had never started.   Finally, they want the matter to be kept confidential – and I can't say I blame them. I would be ashamed if people knew that I had treated somebody else in this way and I'm sure they are worried about reputational damage. I'm also sure that there are extremely worried about what will happen if you get a judgement against them for breach of statutory duty. It will have to be reported to the FCA. It will have to be reported to the NCA. And of course it should be reported to the newspapers because people need to know what is going on. If you want, you can simply accept their proposal – get your money back, given confidentiality – and that's the end of the matter. However, you have no idea how this will impact on your record in the future. I imagine that they will bar you from ever opening an account with them again. – But at least you will have your money and you can get on with your life. However, if you want you can stand your ground and make it clear to them that you are going to be mucked around and treated like this and that you are prepared to go to court if they won't make a proper offer. I understand that you need to pay a court fee of about £350 in the next seven days. I expect that the bank is making this offer now hoping to dissuade you from spending any more money and hoping that you will back down. If you have the money to proceed then I would suggest very strongly that it will be a very serious sign of strength that you tell the bank that you're not interested in that you are paying the fee for the next stage of the court process. If the bank knows that you've called their bluff on this and that you have been prepared to invest further money in moving this legal action forward, then they will start to reflect and I can perfectly well imagine that they will make you another more interesting offer – once again on conditions of confidentiality. Without seeing any further offer, I'm already suggesting that you will probably be best off turning it down. In any event, I would remind you going back several months that I already predicted that the bank would make you confidential offer – and that has happened. I'm not saying that I'm always going to be right here – but I think that now basically the bank have pretty well admitted that they need to pay you your money, there is no chance of you losing it. You will get your money and it really is just a question of how much else you will get in addition. If you'd like to continue then let me know and I will suggest a draft response to them.
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An Interesting Case Of Harrassment.....


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Hope it's ok to post this.................it's in the news so should be ok??

 

 

Debt collection can be harassment: British Gas ruling sends warning to all suppliers

 

 

OUT-LAW News, 25/02/2009

 

A woman who took a case for harassment against British Gas has won a settlement from the company. One legal expert said that the case should act as a warning to all firms to make sure their debt collection and complaint handling operations communicate.

 

 

Lisa Ferguson took the energy giant to court over a string of threatening letters she received demanding payment of gas bills that she was not responsible for. Ferguson had switched suppliers but continued to receive demands and threats from British Gas for eight months.

Ferguson repeatedly wrote to the company and telephoned it to inform it that she had switched suppliers. She wrote to the company's chairman but received no reply and alerted the energy watchdog to her plight.

Even when British Gas employees told her that the matter was settled and the activity would stop, the letters and threats kept coming. Ferguson runs her own property investment business and was told that the failure to pay the bills would affect her credit rating.

Ferguson took a case claiming that British Gas's behaviour was unlawful under the Protection from Harassment Act, which created a civil and a criminal offence of harassment.

That law says:

"A person must not pursue a course of conduct -

(a) which amounts to harassment of another, and

(b) which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the other.

(2) For the purposes of this section, the person whose course of conduct is in question ought to know that it amounts to harassment of another if a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think the course of conduct amounted to harassment of the other."

British Gas said that the behaviour was not serious enough to amount to harassment and that as a company, rather than an individual, it could not be caught by the legislation. It argued that Ferguson would have to identify an individual directing the activity in order for harassment to be demonstrated.

British Gas asked the the Court of Appeal to throw the case out before it reached a full hearing because it had no basis.

The Court refused and said there was a case to answer. British Gas has now settled the case with Ferguson, but would not reveal how much it has paid her.

A litigation expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, said that the case showed that companies should pay close attention to the way they collect debts.

"It was important in this case that the customer had told British Gas so many times that the debt was disputed," said Chris Breen, a litigation specialist at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM. "Companies chasing debts need to be aware that the way they pursue debts could be scrutinised and subject to claims under the Act."

"They need to ensure that their complaints handling procedure is effective and linked up and when they do chase debts that they don't do it in an overly aggressive and threatening way," he said.

Lord Justice Jacob, giving the ruling of the Court, said that British Gas's arguments about why its behaviour stopped short of harassment held no water.

"[british Gas] sought to downgrade [the behaviour] by saying that Ms Ferguson knew the claims and threats were unjustified," he said in the ruling. "That is absurd: a victim of harassment will almost always know that it is unjustified. The Act is there to protect people against unjustified harassment. Indeed if the impugned conduct is justified it is unlikely to amount to harassment at all."

The company also tried to argue that because automated systems created the correspondence it did not amount to harassment.

"[british Gas] also made the point that the correspondence was computer generated and so, for some reason which I do not really follow, Ms Ferguson should not have taken it as seriously as if it had come from an individual," said the ruling. "But real people are responsible for programming and entering material into the computer. It is British Gas's system which, at the very least, allowed the impugned conduct to happen."

"No amount of writing and telephoning had stopped the system so far – at times it must have seemed like a monster machine out of control moving relentlessly forward – a million miles from the 'world class level of service' (letter of 9th January) which British Gas says it aims to offer," the ruling said.

Lord Justice Jacob rejected British Gas's claims that in order to win a harassment case a person would need to demonstrate that the company had "actual knowledge" that its behaviour was harassment.

"As at present it seems to me that all the Act requires of the victim is to identify the course of conduct and what passed between the victim and the alleged harasser. The court is then notionally to put knowledge of that and of any other relevant information into the mind of this reasonable person. The court then decides whether that person would consider that the course of conduct amounts to harassment," he said.

Breen said that the ruling should leave companies in no doubt about their potential culpability. "It is clear from this case that a corporation, large or small, can be responsible for harassment and can't rely on the argument that there is no 'controlling mind' in the company and that the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing," he said.

Breen also said that companies may find that they face action on similar grounds under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations. "Those have prohibitions against aggressive commercial practices, so it is not inconceivable that companies will find that rather than someone pursuing a court case under the Act at their own expense they just complain under the Regulations to Trading Standards," he said.

Lord Justice Jacob praised Ferguson for taking a stand against the company at great personal financial risk. "It is one of the glories of this country that every now and then one of its citizens is prepared to take a stand against the big battalions of government or industry. Such a person is Lisa Ferguson," he said. "Because she funds the claim out of her personal resources, she does so at considerable risk: were she ultimately to lose she would probably have to pay British Gas's considerable costs."

He told British Gas to pay its own costs of £20,368.75 and Ferguson's costs of £10,575.

Reader Kieran Daly says: Only a High Court judge could make a comment as infuriatingly complacent as his remark about the "the glories" of this situation. On the contrary, this case demonstrates once again the general uselessness of English civil law to the genuinely average man, as opposed to those with £10K to risk.

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We knew this already-in fact it was mentioned within these forums,and is mentioned throughout the site.

Have a happy and prosperous 2013 by avoiiding Payday loans. If you are sent a private message directing you for advice or support with your issues to another website,this is your choice.Before you decide,consider the users here who have already offered help and support.

Advice offered by Martin3030 is not supported by any legal training or qualification.Members are advised to use the services of fully insured legal professionals when needed.

 

 

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