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HL Solicitors court claim relating to local college course


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I'm looking for some advice please on how to proceed with regard to a county court claim I received today, courtesy of H&L.


Back in 2011 I enrolled on a local college course for the academic year 2011/12.

At the time I was unemployed and applied for "mature" student finance.

This was ticking along and as the end of the year approached various people also on the same course dropped out

as their finance was turned down or their circumstances changed.


In January 2012 I was fortunate to secure full time employment and continued on the course,

my employers allowing me to attend the college the one day a week necessary.



I advised Student Finances of my change in circumstances but was told there would not be a problem

- I just had to get evidence from my council that my household had been receiving council tax benefit for a period up until I started the course.

I applied to the council for written proof of this, and to date this never came back.


The course itself was flawed.

The planned course tutor was on long-term sick and the college struggled to cope.

As a class we lost countless hours waiting for a tutor, a room, many times just being told to get on with things

or read one of the course books.



As an example we had a lesson in flash, then never revisited flash for weeks, the same for Adobe Photoshop.

Being told to read a course book was OK if you had the book.

For those who were unemployed or on low incomes, we certainly couldn't afford all the books,

and the college only had 2 or 3 which could be loaned out for limited periods.


Things came to a head after the department head randomly came in one evening and asked for feedback.

As a class we came together, wrote down our grievances and passed these on, much to the department head's shock and surprise.

A class representative was appointed and a meeting was held and we were told things would improve.


In the end I couldn't justify taking time off away from my work and I had serious doubts on the value of the course

and spending thousands on a 3 year foundation degree for an education that I wasn't getting

- one part of the course was fine

- the lecturer did her bit but the main IT elements (this was an Internet Business course) were sorely lacking.


I left the course in early 2012 and didn't hear anything from the college.

No invoice, no calls, no final demand, no default notice .. nothing.



In early September 2013 I received the first of well over a dozen of threatening letters from H&L Solicitors

and I contacted the college to find out what was going on.

H&L had added around £35 to the total apparently although this was not made clear.

The debt was for £1207.



I emailed the college and eventually received a holding email in October followed by a letter which claimed there had been no issues with the course , and that I had to pay.


I replied by letter, which was never acknowledged offering to pay £300 to resolve matters and cover their admin costs,

or for them to put me on a new properly managed course for which I would pay.



Moving to 2014, after a flurry of threats from H&L I emailed the college again, asking for my complaint to be passed to the principal.

Again I offered the £300, or to pay for a new course. This was ignored.


Fast forward to 2015 and many months have gone by without any letters from H&L,

so I wrongly presumed the college had simply moved on.



Three weeks ago I received a threat of legal action from H&L, the same as many they'd sent before and



today I received a county court claim. The total is now £1600 including court costs and £80 solicitors fees, and interest.


I am in a position to pay but I'm unsure as to how to proceed.

My life is more or less back together after an 18 month period of unemployment before 2012 and I'm with the same employer.

I don't want to get my credit rating destroyed after I've been slowly building it back up.


I have never contacted H&L as my complaint has always been with the college.

The H&L letters do not make clear if they bought the debt or if they are acting on the college's behalf.

If I defend would I have to pay more if I lose?

If I get a judgment against me but pay within a month does that get wiped?


Should I counter claim?, offer a part payment? - contact H&L?



Since this started I've moved house and only received the claim because my mail is redirected.


Any advice you could offer would be much appreciated. :!:

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You could certainly defend this and on the basis of what you say, you certainly should.


Are you in contact with any of the other people who were on the course? If you can get corroborating statements from them then you are in a very powerful position. Furthermore, if you win then I think that they would also be in a position to make claims back for the money that they had spent. This might encourage them.


Are you able to contact others?


Whatever happens, you should certainly acknowledge the claim immediately and then that will give you 28 days from the date of service to consider your position and to file a defence if you want.


We will help you

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Hi Bankfodder,


Thanks for your reply. I'm unfortunately not in contact with anyone who attended the same course.

My last correspondence with the college was in May 2014 when I asked for the complaint to be passed to the principal.



An earlier letter, which I regret to say just went 1st class, had been ignored.

I still have the email from May, that I sent to the college, so can print that with all the headers, time stamps etc.



I did ask them then, as part of any pre-trial proceedings, to forward copies of the feedback forms that we all filled out,

and minutes of the meeting between the department head and the class representative.


I left well before the end of the 1st year.

There were a lot of unhappy people there,

I know some were considering leaving but others were prepared to just ride along as their employers would pay for the bill.



The logic for them was that after 3 years they'd have a foundation degree, regardless of how bad the course was.

They never acknowledged the fact either that I'd bill them for £35 for each letter I received from H&L if they chose to ignore me.

. but I wasn't really expecting them to do that!

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Try and search the internet for some of your old colleagues.

If you want to defend it then put together a structured bullet-pointed list of the problems - including dates where possible.

Post it here and we'll see if it runs.

Post the claim form

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Thanks again Bankfodder.


I've found one of my old course colleagues so have reached out to her , will have to see if I get a response.



My memory is a bit hazy over exact dates but I have copies of the actual correspondence between myself

and the college, so can back that up this was clearly disputed as well as clearly show I made a goodwill offer to cover their admin fees

or start and pay for a new course.



It was well over a year after leaving before the I received a letter from H&L ,



and as I mentioned there had been no correspondence from the college in the meantime to say I owed them money, why hadn't I paid etc.

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You may have difficulty getting minutes as they aren't necessarily personal data

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Thread moved to the appropriate forum.





We could do with some help from you.



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If you want advice on your Topic please PM me a link to your thread

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svenskidoo, you might want to take a look at the website of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education.They might even be able to handle the problem, in which case you could apply to the county court for the action against you to be stayed whilst the OIA deals with it.

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