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Urgent help with defending a CCJ. Should I just settle?


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Hi- Its my first time here and would really appreciate some advice. Last year I took out a 12 month gym contract at my local gym. When I signed up I explained to the membership person that I was potentially going through a break up and would not be able to afford to continue the membership if this happened. They agreed to relook at the membership should that happen and that they could possibly help with me not being tied up for 12 months. This break up then happened and I cancelled my membership as I couldn't afford it on my own whilst trying to keep a house over mine and my sons head.

Since then they have applied to the county court for the rest of the contract plus fee's making a total of £850.

I printed off a copy of the emails and sent it back to the court to defend my claim. I am now waiting for a hearing date.

Where I need the advice is that I have today received a phone call from their debt recovery agents saying that they would settle with no CCJ at £600 but it would need to be paid within 4 weeks. I am not in a position to afford this. They then said that a CCJ will already be in place and the courts will have to decide whether to remove it or not. Is this true? And how can I have a CCJ in place when it hasn't actually gone to court yet? They also said that even if I win the case then I will have to pay the court charges and their solicitors costs?!?! They said that this would amount to at least £600 anyway.

I am so confused about all of this and I don't know whether it is better for me to just try and find the £600 to prevent the CCJ on my records. They seemed to think that even though I have on email that I could get out of my contract that I probably wont win and that I will have the CCJ anyway.

Any advice would be truly appreciated.

Thanks

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Sounds like you called their bluff and now theyre worried. Thats why theyre desperately trying to settle out of court. Hold tight and hopefully one of the site admins will pop into the thread. We have a great guy here who has helped a lot of people successfully defend the claims. Iirc theres also a legal precedent that is binding on lower courts in regards to cancellations.

 

As I said, it sounds like the dca/gym knows this and knows they will lose.

Any advice i give is my own and is based solely on personal experience. If in any doubt about a situation , please contact a certified legal representative or debt counsellor..

 

 

If my advice helps you, click the star icon at the bottom of my post and feel free to say thanks

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Hi and welcome to CAG

 

Realistically it is difficult to give you a view on this unless you type out the exact words of the email. This is key to your Defence. If the emails are very vague it is a weak Defence, but if the emails say the gym will definitely do something or will properly consider doing something than it is stronger.

 

Of course, there will only be a CCJ if you go to court and lose. It should not go on your credit record if paid within 28 days.

 

If you lose you would be liable liable for their court fees and possibly fixed solicitors costs (usually about £50 - this will be shown on the claim form). You would not be liable for anything at all if you win. Their statement that you would be liable for costs if you lose is a direct lie. Their statement that the costs would be anywhere near £600 is also a complete fib. Please report the DCA to the OFT at http://www.oft.gov.uk/about-the-oft/legal-powers/legal/cca/debt-collection#.UgTdw50Z5Co.

 

It is better to deal with these clowns in writing. If you really must do it by telephone then find a way to record the call.

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Hi- Its my first time here and would really appreciate some advice. Last year I took out a 12 month gym contract at my local gym. When I signed up I explained to the membership person that I was potentially going through a break up and would not be able to afford to continue the membership if this happened. They agreed to relook at the membership should that happen and that they could possibly help with me not being tied up for 12 months. This break up then happened and I cancelled my membership as I couldn't afford it on my own whilst trying to keep a house over mine and my sons head.

Since then they have applied to the county court for the rest of the contract plus fee's making a total of £850.

I printed off a copy of the emails and sent it back to the court to defend my claim. I am now waiting for a hearing date.

Where I need the advice is that I have today received a phone call from their debt recovery agents saying that they would settle with no CCJ at £600 but it would need to be paid within 4 weeks. I am not in a position to afford this. They then said that a CCJ will already be in place and the courts will have to decide whether to remove it or not. Is this true? And how can I have a CCJ in place when it hasn't actually gone to court yet? They also said that even if I win the case then I will have to pay the court charges and their solicitors costs?!?! They said that this would amount to at least £600 anyway.

I am so confused about all of this and I don't know whether it is better for me to just try and find the £600 to prevent the CCJ on my records. They seemed to think that even though I have on email that I could get out of my contract that I probably wont win and that I will have the CCJ anyway.

Any advice would be truly appreciated.

Thanks

 

This High Court ruling (below) should help you toDefend and defeat the gyms’ claim against you. Refer the gym to this authority and request that they discontinue.

High Court rules that terms in thousands of gymcontracts are unfair, following OFT action.

The OFT today (27/5/11) welcomed a ruling from theHigh Court that minimum contract length terms and a number of other key termsin thousands of gym membership contracts, recommended and enforced by AshbourneManagement Services Limited ('Ashbourne'), are unfair and hence unenforceable.

The court also ruled that a number of Ashbourne'stechniques for collecting arrears were unlawful.

Ashbourne draws up membership agreements, and thencollects members' payments, for over 700 gym clubs. In many cases consumersfound that they stopped using the gym after a few months, or theircircumstances changed so that continued membership was no longer affordable orpractical. However the contracts had minimum membership periods of between oneand three years and Ashbourne routinely stated consumers could not terminatetheir membership. If consumers stopped paying Ashbourne demanded immediatepayment of the full sum - often many hundreds of pounds - for the whole minimumperiod.

If the consumer still refused to pay Ashbourne putpressure on them by threatening to damage their credit rating by referring thedebt to a credit reference agency. As of July 2009, Ashbourne had registerednearly 17,000 defaults with credit reference agencies.

Today, following a four day hearing in March 2011,Mr Justice Kitchin agreed with these concerns of the OFT and ruled thatAshbourne's business model '… is designed and calculated to take advantage ofthe naivety and inexperience of the average consumer using gym clubs at thelower end of the market,' whom he considered that AMS 'exploited.' He said thatthe minimum period is 'a trap into which the average consumer is likely tofall.'

The judge considered 13 of Ashbourne's contracts,and ruled that the minimum terms in 10 of them were completely unfair. Heconsidered that the last three, which Ashbourne had created since the OFT beganthe court proceedings in March 2010, were fairer to consumers, but were stillunfair if they tie the consumer in for more than 12 months.

The judge decided that it is unlawful to try toenforce or even to include unfair terms in contracts, where doing so could leadthe consumer to pay money they would not otherwise have done.

Ashbourne had a number of other practices that thejudge also ruled to be unfair. These included not making clear that theconsumer was contracting with the gym, rather than Ashbourne; refusing to allowthe consumer to cancel the agreement by notifying the gym; demanding paymentfor the full minimum period where the consumer was just a short time late inpaying an instalment; and demanding payment even when the consumer had agenuine dispute about the quality of the gym.

Importantly the judge also ruled that Ashbourneshould not report or threaten to report consumers to credit reference agencies,where:

The term requiring payment is unfair

The sum demanded is not actually owed or is simplya claim for damages

The consumer has a genuine reason for disputingtheir liability to pay.

As a result of this ruling, the High Court has saidthat it will make an enforcement order against Ashbourne and its directors,granting injunctions preventing them from using or relying on their currentstandard contracts and from using unfair terms in the future. This will providefurther clarification that Ashbourne cannot enforce the unfair terms in itscontracts against those consumers who are disputing them, or indeed againstother gym members who have signed up to them.

Jason Freeman, Director in the OFT Goods andConsumer Group, said:

'We have received many complaints about Ashbourne'scontracts, and many consumers have felt pressured into paying sums of moneythat they believed they did not owe. We are pleased that the Court hasconfirmed that these practices are unlawful, and this should bring peace ofmind to many people who have fallen into the trap of signing up to theselengthy gym contracts.

'Unfair terms that unreasonably bind consumers intolong contracts they cannot leave, and heavy-handed collection techniques, haveno place in businesses' dealings with consumers. This ruling should helptraders to understand where the boundaries lie, and sends a warning that ifthey cross the line, the OFT and local trading standards services can takeaction.'

The OFT is unable to provide advice or resolveindividual complaints for consumers. Any consumer who feels that they have anunfair minimum term and wishes to end their contract should contact their gym.General consumer information is available from http://www.direct.gov.uk/consumer or bycalling Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06. For further assistance consumersshould consider obtaining independent legal advice.

- See more at: http://www.health-performance-centre.com/resources/health-a-fitness-news/158-high-court-rules-on-gym-membership-contracts#sthash.4YfLUFHE.dpuf

Kind regards

The Mould

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