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solicitor demanding payment for a (very) old and allegedly unpaid 'debt'


fennecfox272
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I have just received a claim from a solicitor for an amount just over £2000 that he alleges is an “outstanding debt” owed from back in 2007.

 

As background, we retained this solicitor for a routine matter about eight or nine years ago. He did a small amount of work for us, for which he presented a bill that contained numerous line items that we had not authorized and which we felt were not right. So, we rejected the bill and told him to substantiate each item with external evidence and resubmit it to us. What he actually did was obtain a CCJ against me for the inflated amount without ever justifying it to anybody. To prevent hassle – we were threatened with bankruptcy proceedings if we did not pay – and the huge waste of time and effort that would result, we simply paid (I know, I know….).

 

Things have been ‘all quiet’ ever since until last week, out of the blue, I get a letter from this lawyer alleging that we owe him £2000 in ‘outstanding debt’ because we never paid the CCJ in full. The excuse given is that he has been doing a ‘review of old accounts’ and only just noticed this fact (!).

 

Aside from indicating completely inadequate business processes and financial controls on the part of that solicitor, it presents me with a problem – how to respond to it. Because this letter refers to an event so long ago, the retention periods for documents (5 years) and for CCJ’s (6 years) have passed, and therefore no records exist any longer. I have checked this, by the way.

 

The letter has of course conveniently also been written a couple of months after the seven year retention period for financial records has expired, so there are no longer any financial records in existence either - not even our former bank has any information on file (I have checked this too).

 

In short, there is simply no way of independently assessing the validity or otherwise of this claim, or of proving that the sum was or was not paid.

 

He of course is demanding “payment in full by return” which I regard as simply a sly and underhand way to get me to acknowledge that the alleged debt exists…

 

This solicitor is only interested in lining his own pocket, and is both rude and aggressive. If a CCJ were not involved I would simply tell him to stuff it, but it may not be that simple here. I am therefore looking for information / suggestions / etc as to what courses of action are open to me.

 

All suggestions gratefully received….

 

Fred F

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Hello and welcome to CAG. The forum guys should be along with advice over the course of the day.

 

I have a question please.

 

 

Things have been ‘all quiet’ ever since until last week, out of the blue, I get a letter from this lawyer alleging that we owe him £2000 in ‘outstanding debt’ because we never paid the CCJ in full. The excuse given is that he has been doing a ‘review of old accounts’ and only just noticed this fact (!).

 

Is it true about the CCJ?

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Hi and welcome to CAG

 

Did you not know about the CCJ? If you did, did you not challenge it?

 

A CCJ does not die as any Statute Barred debt would however, after this length of time he would have to apply to the courts to enforce the judgement and after 6 years of no contact, he would find it quite hard.

Is the solicitor part of a partnership or a single trader? Is he still registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

 

You can complain to the SRA about his behaviour.

 

If he has destroyed documents after the 6 year period, how could he ever prove the debt is outstanding?

If you are asked to deal with any matter via private message, PLEASE report it.

Everything I say is opinion only. If you are unsure on any comment made, you should see a qualified solicitor

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In answer to the questions:

 

Documents: clearly, he has not destroyed whatever documents he himself has internally. And being reasonable, his own documents may indeed suggest to him that money is owed, even though it was paid in full - he has a record of what is alleged to be a partial payment leaving the residue he is now claiming. But there is no guarantee that his records are complete, and clearly, since the debt was paid they are not accurate.

 

I cannot / do not simply trust his word - past bitter experience proves that he is untrustworthy and self-interested, and if nothing else, the fact that he alleges that "he simply did not notice an outstanding debt for more than seven years" indicates that their internal financial and document management processes are highly questionable, to say the least.

 

However, we no longer have any records - long past the legal retention period - and remember that retention laws not only specify how long you must keep info, but that you must destroy things when they 'expire'. Net result is that there is absolutely zero independent information available to substantiate or refute his claim - this has long been destroyed (even at the bank, after all this time). I have even resorted to writing to him asking for him to provide 'independent 3rd party' verification of his claim - he could get this from their external auditors, for example, since his own financial records presumably exist - but predictably have had no response.

 

CCJ: we knew about it as we simply said 'screw it' and paid just to get rid of the idiot. However, I have now checked on this too and according to the Court in question, it was never registered. Another example of the guy's incompetence, if you need one. But as a result, nothing ever showed up in searches etc. so there was nothing visible for us to pay any attention to or take action on. And now, being beyond the 6 year period, not even the Court has information to supply me (I have already asked). And of course, beyond 6 years the CCJ would not be on the books any longer anyway.

 

SRA: yes, he is registered with the SRA. He is a 'senior partner' in a smallish firm. I have looked at complaining to the SRA but their website basically says that they dont want to know about it unless he has been 'dishonest'. Has he been?? He is certainly incompetent, but that is something different.

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Thread moved to the appropriate forum,

 

Regards

 

Andy

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Well, if you paid by a traceable mean, bank transfer, credit card, cheque etc. There will be a record somewhere.(bank statements) Can you find this?

 

If your bank were involved at all, there will be a record in their archives. The same applies with credit cards.

If you are asked to deal with any matter via private message, PLEASE report it.

Everything I say is opinion only. If you are unsure on any comment made, you should see a qualified solicitor

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fennecfox, it sounds to me as if the solicitor's firm is in financial trouble and is casting about to try to get some money in. Firms are always going to the wall and present conditions are especially difficult for them. In your position I would ignore their communication. They know they are statute-barred.

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fennecfox, it sounds to me as if the solicitor's firm is in financial trouble and is casting about to try to get some money in. Firms are always going to the wall and present conditions are especially difficult for them. In your position I would ignore their communication. They know they are statute-barred.

 

As mentioned earlier. County Court Judgements do not become stature barred however, the claimant would have to show proof that attempts were made in the preceeding 6 years to collect on this and if no action has been taken, a judge would question why that is as they have had plenty of time to enforce.

 

To the OP. Banks often say they don't keep documents after 6 years. This is not always true. I have seen many cases here where documents go back to the inception of an account be that 6 years, 10 years and more. Contact the banks head office in writing to ascertain whether this is actually fact or send the bank a SAR. This may get back the relevant documents.

If you are asked to deal with any matter via private message, PLEASE report it.

Everything I say is opinion only. If you are unsure on any comment made, you should see a qualified solicitor

Please help CAG. Order this ebook. Now available on Amazon. Please click HERE

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Silverfox - I am an IT guy and happen to have worked with the bank in question, and somebody did me a favour and pulled their archive records for me. Nothing in them of relevance though. All they have going back further are records of 'routine bank transfer' type payments such as direct debits.

 

I am therefore going to turn it around and go after them with a formal complaint, give them time to withdraw it and 'please explain', then go to the SRA and Legal Ombudsman. Ignoring it is not an option - this guy is both greedy and only interested in lining his own pockets. If he thinks that he can get money, he will keep on being a pain in the ass.

 

FF

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It sounds very strange. I would simply write back explaining that the CCJ was paid in full at the time, that you do not believe any debt remains owing, and that if he does believe something is owing he should provide a full explanation together with all accompanying documentation.

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