Harrison v Link Financial………..a year on

I was the fee earner responsible for the case which was described as a “landmark ruling” of Harrsion v Link Financail Limited in the High Court (Mold District Registry)

The case attracted widespread publicity and numerous press articles. Keith Harrison did indeed provide the BBC with a frank interview about his case which can be viewed here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13199797 and contrary to some articles, there were more than just 18 telephone calls complained of in Court. In fact a telephone log of over 700 calls was exhibited in evidence. It was somewhat amusing to see MBNA trying to suggest they were not aware of the call log, as Mr Harrisons witness statement (extending to some 300 paragrpahs) made it very clear the issues and allegations made and interestingly MBNA sent its own solicitor Nicola Worden to give evidence in the case. I understand that Mrs Worden had been presented with Mr Harrisons statement before the hearing !!.

Anyway, little turns on them points, they are just really amusement value. The real issue is the way in which Keith Harrison was treated while he was in debt and the way in which the creditor / debt collector went about collecting or trying to collect the debt.

Being in debt is not a crime, there is no debtors prison, and people who are in debt do not deserve to be treated any differently because of the fact that they are in debt.

I see  and hear horrendous stories of people being pursued in outrageous ways by creditors and debt collectors and if the debt collection industry does not stop and take a long look in the mirror then i predict many more Keith Harrison style cases coming before the Courts.

Some examples of the unfair practices are

  • Calling debtors upto 10 times a day and demanding payments that the debtor simply cannot afford. If the debtor cannot pay whats being asked at 9 am then he sure as hell wont be able to at 10am and 11am etfc.
  • Sending poorly worded letters which mislead the debtor to believe that the creditor can take action when infact it cannot. For example i have seen letters suggesting the debt can be secured against the debtors home without first explaining that a County Court judgment would be needed, then an application for a charging order would be necessary and even then there is no guarantee that the Court will grant it.
  • Asking debtors to borrow money to pay a debt. It is against OFT Guidance to coerce a debtor to make further borrowings.
  • Chasing a debt that isnt even owed. I speak from personal experience here, i was aggressively pursued for a debt that didnt even exist. I had settled my bank account and closed it, so i thought at least. I then start getting letters threatening all manner of nasty things if i didnt pay. It took 6 months and a letter threatening press exposure before the debt collectors were called off!!!! WHY, the debt didnt even exist so how can that be so hard to accept.
  • Failing to comply with a statutory duty- as can be seen from Harrison, MBNA and link made numerous failures and had only managed to comply with s78 Consumer Credit Act on the DAY OF THE TRIAL!!. Link and MBNA are not the only ones though, there are many many others who simply cannot get it right. This is a serious problem that the industry needs to think about carefully.

From my point of view, one thing that i have never been able to work out, is why debt collectors are soo agressive in their approach. If a person only has £2.50 to pay then accept it, why is that so hard, i mean yes of course they want to recover the best amounts for their clients but at what cost? we have seen people driven to suicide by their debts, and from what i have seen in my time with the cases i have managed, i can see why as the way some companies pursue debts is something that i would liken to the Gestapo.

The old saying “you cant get blood out of a stone” springs to mind.

Now to clarify i dont seek to protect those who wont pay, only those who cant pay what is being demanded. I cannot see why the creditors and the debt collectors insist on suing people who are in the cant pay catergory as all litigation does is add costs add expense and add to the debt that the debtor already cannot pay.

It seems to me however that the lessons from Harrison have not been learnt and i really do see more High Court challenges arising out of the manner in which these creditors seek to recover their monies.

About paul @ watsons solicitors
Member of Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and a litigator for one of the leading firms of solicitors in Consumer Credit Act litigation. I was the fee earner in the landmark ruling of Harrison v Link Financial Limited and many other County Court decisions.

6 Responses to Harrison v Link Financial………..a year on

  1. Hi paul ,I am currently in a battle with link financial for exactly the same thing.What is the law regarding a notice of assignment and default notice being served to a previous address,so in fact I never received them.They will say I never sent the original creditor the new address plus are they not supposed to send notice of assignment and default notice by recorded delivery as to prove their postage…they did neither.

    • Hi Wayne

      Not an easy point to answer if im honest. According to Templeman J in Holwell Securities Ltd v Hughes – [1973] 2 All ER 476 a notice of assignment takes effect not when it is sent but when it is received. The assignor will need to show some evidence it seems that the notice of assignment was sent , the preferable method would be either by providing witness evidence that the notice was placed into the postal system and addressed correctly or that it was sent via recorded delivery with a signature showing receipt.

      With regards to the Default notice it may well be deemed served if the notice was sent to your last known address. Section 176 Consumer Credit Act deals with service of documents and states

      176 Service of documents.
      (1)A document to be served under this Act by one person ( “the server ”) on another person ( “the subject ”) is to be treated as properly served on the subject if dealt with as mentioned in the following subsections.

      (2)The document may be delivered or sent [F1by an appropriate method] to the subject, or addressed to him by name and left at his proper address.

      (3)For the purposes of this Act, a document sent by post to, or left at, the address last known to the server as the address of a person shall be treated as sent by post to, or left at, his proper address.

      • Hi paul,i am at court on june 18th for a fast track hearing against link financial..it seems that link have changed their witness statement to aver the facts of the cca..in my favour I have the original document which was never signed or dated…link have said in their first statement ..nothing other than the standard proceedures were followed in the execution of the cca..now in their last statement they have changed this to another ccca was done and sent out and signed by the defendant..me..on a date I wasn’t even in the country and never happened and I have a statement off my fiancé who was with me in spain at the time and a covering letter off my employers dhl to confirm this.Also the claimants account number for the cca is different than from the original creditors.do you believe I have a strong case and as I have also mentioned I never received any n.o.a or default notice to my present address despite the original creditor being informed of this…your expert analysis would be very much grateful ..thanks wayne

      • Wayne,

        Probably best not to address arguments here, as i am aware that many finance houses do read this blog. It is best not to tell them the answers to their problems here.

        drop me an email at paul@watsonssolicitors.co.uk and i will see what can be done

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