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Authority of E-mail communications from Council

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Hello All,

kind of a strange question,



I've just received an e-mail from my local council, Brent in London, asking that I reply to them 'urgently'

to check/update my details regarding a homelessness date suitability form.



Firstly, is an e-mail actually considered a formal request and thus demands a reply?



Secondly I'm very wary of opening any uncalled for attachments,



I'm not obliged to bear the cost of an internet connection and I doubt the Council will ever admit that their attachments

have been preloaded with anything malicious to a PC.


I'm tempted to think this is a cost cutting exercise, which was why I've been moved out of borough anyway,



I'd like to play straight with them but am uncertain about what constitutes 'formal' communication.


With thanks,


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Thank you for your rapid response, quicker, and more succinct than my locally elected people! My point exactly about not opening unknown attachments. I've taken these buggers to a Judicial review and won once before, I trust them as far as I can throw a small thing. My worry is that an e-mail may constitute a 'communication' under the law, I'm very dubious but would welcome better authority.


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With the pervasive state of current technology, I would imagine that if they have a valid email address for you, it would be considered an appropriate means of communications. If you have any concerns about attachments, there are plenty of sites on the internet that you can upload documents to for scanning. Alternatively, you could reply to the sender and inform them that attachments are automatically stripped by your email system and a paper copy should be posted instead.





No... you can't eat my brain just yet. I need it a little while longer.
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Thank you Mr.P, my concern is whether a sent e-mail constitutes a legally binding 'letter', ie if I fail to respond to a physical letter delivered through Royal Mail etc. I accept the consequences, but an e-mail...?


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If you prefer to receive mail (written) and have no address you can always rent a mail box from the many providers in your neck of the woods. this would allow you to have sensitive letters delivered normally. There is a fee for this and you would need to make your own enquiries on this matter....

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Thanks for that, my point is whether an e-mail sent from a Council is a legal document in the widest sense of the expression. As far as I know I can't fire/hire an individual on the basis of an e-mail alone, so is my council shaving money and authority by communicating by e-mail, I'm not obliged to pay for an ISP, nor is an E-mail address an obligation, should I just tell Brent Council that I will only accept printed documents?

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What we also need to consider is when you filled in the Homelessness Date Suitability Form when you signed this form what did it state about how the council would communicate with you and did you provide an email address.


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I cannot give any advice by PM - If you provide a link to your Thread then I will be happy to offer advice there.

I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

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Email is a legal form of communication if you have provided the Council with a valid email address and not informed them it was no longer valid. As stated previously much depends on the forms you have filled in for the council in the past.If the email address given was invalid it would 'bounce' back to them so they should know it is inactive if the sending address accepts incoming mail. You would need to write to them stating you do not have regular access to an internet connection therefore all communication should be by post to the address you give then - which could be a friend's, a rented box number at an accommodation address etc.

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