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16-Year Legal Battle Over Laptop Reaches Uk Supreme Court

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http://www.theguardian.com/law/2014/jan/09/legal-battle-laptop-uk-supreme-court

All Richard Durkin wanted was a laptop with an inbuilt modem. But what he ended up with was an epic 16-year legal tussle, a £250,000 bill for legal fees and, now, a date at the supreme court.

The 44-year-old married father of two has been engaged in a David-and-Goliath battle against the bank that he says "annihilated" his credit rating after he walked into his local PC World to buy a £1,500 laptop in 1998.

With the help of a supportive QC, a charity and a leading solicitors' body, he has now succeeded in winning a hearing at the supreme court, which is reserved for cases "of the greatest public or constitutional importance affecting the whole population". On 28 January a panel of five justices will decide once and for all whether he was the victim of an injustice following a dispute over a credit agreement.

He is seeking a six-figure sum after arguing that being wrongly blacklisted meant he was unable to buy a home; papers lodged with the court state that Durkin alleges the bank's conduct "amounted to extortion". The marathon legal row is seen as an important test case for thousands of people who say their lives have been ruined after black marks were put on their credit files.

"People don't realise how much damage a default on your credit record does until they actually have one," he said. "It's like I'm in a financial jail." He acknowledged that taking his case to the supreme court was a high-stakes move: "If I lose, I go bankrupt – simple as that."

The saga began on 28 December 1998, when Durkin, an offshore construction surveyor, went to the Aberdeen branch of PC World to buy a laptop. The sales assistant pointed out a particular model, but it was in a sealed box, so it was not possible to check whether it had the right modem.

It is claimed that the assistant suggested Durkin buy the laptop, saying that if there was a problem he could return it and get his £50 deposit back. Durkin bought the computer, handed over his £50 and signed a credit agreement with HFC Bank – which provided PC World's in-store finance and is part of the HSBC group – for £1,449 to cover the balance. When he got home he found the laptop did not have an inbuilt modem, so he took it back the next morning. But the manager on duty refused to take the computer back, refund his £50 or cancel the agreement.

Durkin left the laptop at the shop, then went to work offshore, but when he got home a fortnight later he found the laptop waiting for him. He again took it back to the shop, where it stayed, and later sued PC World for the £50. The company paid up without admitting liability. Durkin assumed that was the end of the matter, but HFC Bank said he was still required to make payments under the terms of the agreement. He says he explained what had happened, but the bank warned that if he did not pay up, possible consequences included "difficulty in the future in obtaining a mortgage or other credit".

Sure enough, HFC Bank later put a default notice on his Experian and Equifax credit files. Durkin says he tried without success to get these black marks removed, and the bank "made no inquiries into [Durkin's] claim that he had been entitled to and had in fact rescinded his contract of sale", according to a 2010 court judgment. The black marks stayed on his files until at least 2005.

An interesting case, what happened to the money PC World got from HFC bank for the laptop? Someone must have had the outstanding balance?

Is there more to this case than is being presented?

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Reminds me of a credit card provider I took a card out with to get a discount, if anyone wants to know who please PM me.

I took the card out, for the discount, waited a month, cancelled the card over the phone.

The company were very pushy and tried to get me to keep the card.

Eventually, after 30 minutes of pushing back they agreed to cancel the card.

The very last comment the bloke on the other end of the phone said was "we'll be putting a black mark on your credit rating for this." My reply was, "I dont need credit, f*** you.".

I subsequently applied for a different card, with air miles, it was refused.

I do wonder if I have a black mark because I played the credit card system, but like I said, I don't want/need credit, so **** them.

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This will only happen more often with the credit agencies taking on data from landlords, now they are storing rent payment data on individuals credit files.

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This will only happen more often with the credit agencies taking on data from landlords, now they are storing rent payment data on individuals credit files.

Maybe more people need to say "shove your credit where the sun don't shine".

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A few cases like this and your credit rating will be totally free to access and you'll be able to sue anybody who puts an unjustified black mark on your record. Financial firms will not want the legal cases so will only put cast-iron information down; no more errors or being downscored for living at the same address as somebody with a genuinely bad record.

Which is nice.

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"The judges also highlighted Durkin's spending levels at the time: they said that between mid-2001 and late 2005, his credit card debt jumped from £4,000 to £37,000. "It appears to have been the general level of [Durkin's] expenditure, linked to his decision not to become a Spanish tax resident, in which event a 95% mortgage would have been available to him ... that led to his being unable to afford to proceed with the purchase of a property in Spain," they said"

OK OK so I do not have a finely tuned legal brain but....am i alone in noting the 'rationale' (or part of it) in the subsequent overruling of his original legal victory? OK so his personal spending habits may have been reckless even BUT what on Earth has that to do with the specific case/argument here? His argument relates solely to an individual transaction and his obligations relating to just that particular sale/contract.

The argument presented by the appeal court against him seems solely based on his character? and nothing to do with the particulars of the contract? IF that was the sole/major basis of the appeal going against him, and not based on the unfairness of the contract he was contesting, then I will be dismayed if the supreme court do not hold up the original verdict in his favour.

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pc world are scum bags to deal with.

my sister had Toshiba laptop which the screen failed in it and they would not do anything to fix it.

in the end i had go and visit shop and kick up stink to get it fixed.

aldi on the other hand i cant fault there 3 year warranty on my computer screen came to the house took it away brought it back week later working.

brought my laptop from them because of there warranty.

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"The judges also highlighted Durkin's spending levels at the time: they said that between mid-2001 and late 2005, his credit card debt jumped from £4,000 to £37,000. "It appears to have been the general level of [Durkin's] expenditure, linked to his decision not to become a Spanish tax resident, in which event a 95% mortgage would have been available to him ... that led to his being unable to afford to proceed with the purchase of a property in Spain," they said"

OK OK so I do not have a finely tuned legal brain but....am i alone in noting the 'rationale' (or part of it) in the subsequent overruling of his original legal victory? OK so his personal spending habits may have been reckless even BUT what on Earth has that to do with the specific case/argument here? His argument relates solely to an individual transaction and his obligations relating to just that particular sale/contract.

The argument presented by the appeal court against him seems solely based on his character? and nothing to do with the particulars of the contract? IF that was the sole/major basis of the appeal going against him, and not based on the unfairness of the contract he was contesting, then I will be dismayed if the supreme court do not hold up the original verdict in his favour.

ths is a mitigation.

the credit record is a series of records over a period of time...the claim that he couldnt get a mortgage because of one particular record is clearly muddied by the fact that a lender, checking the series, MAY have ignored the Black mark and the serious debt he was in MAY have been the true reason.

COurse, the flip side of this is that IF he was on £150K per annum and a large amount on the cards, all paid off regularly it seems, makes that argument mute.

The judges would look at the entirety of the case...as a defendent, I would certainly raise that possibility of over indebtedness...but, as you say, they should be weighing the rights and wrongs of a wrong credit entry.

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ths is a mitigation.

the credit record is a series of records over a period of time...the claim that he couldnt get a mortgage because of one particular record is clearly muddied by the fact that a lender, checking the series, MAY have ignored the Black mark and the serious debt he was in MAY have been the true reason.

COurse, the flip side of this is that IF he was on £150K per annum and a large amount on the cards, all paid off regularly it seems, makes that argument mute.

The judges would look at the entirety of the case...as a defendent, I would certainly raise that possibility of over indebtedness...but, as you say, they should be weighing the rights and wrongs of a wrong credit entry.

a large amount on the cards, all paid off regularly it seems, makes that argument mute.

I was always under the impresion doing the above gives you a better credit rating

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I was always under the impresion doing the above gives you a better credit rating

depends who is reading it.

There is no such thing as a credit score attached to you....If there is a score at all, it depends on who is doing the scoring and why...two firms could score you differently for varying reasons.

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I was always under the impresion doing the above gives you a better credit rating

I thought not, people lend to you to make money so if you're not paying any interest you're not a good deal for them.

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A few cases like this and your credit rating will be totally free to access and you'll be able to sue anybody who puts an unjustified black mark on your record. Financial firms will not want the legal cases so will only put cast-iron information down; no more errors or being downscored for living at the same address as somebody with a genuinely bad record.

Which is nice.

Freedom of Credit Information act? Sounds good.

I recently shifted round a bunch of accounts, and went to open two new CC's for different benefits. One of these was declined (first time that's happened to me). Maybe they twigged that they were unlikely to get any interest from me.

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Maybe more people need to say "shove your credit where the sun don't shine".

They do, and I just love the way that firms treat their customers this way. Indeed their first line of attack seems to be a threat to blacken your credit history. Just pay cash for stuff, if you can't afford it, don't buy!

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Freedom of Credit Information act? Sounds good.

I recently shifted round a bunch of accounts, and went to open two new CC's for different benefits. One of these was declined (first time that's happened to me). Maybe they twigged that they were unlikely to get any interest from me.

It could be you are maxed out on credit. Even if you don't hold any balance on the card it's viewed that you do on future applications. At one point I had about £30k-£40k credit available on several credit cards and got turned down for another. I was told to get rid of some of the cards.

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It could be you are maxed out on credit. Even if you don't hold any balance on the card it's viewed that you do on future applications. At one point I had about £30k-£40k credit available on several credit cards and got turned down for another. I was told to get rid of some of the cards.

Nah. I didn't have any existing credit cards before applying for these two, having closed the last account a few months ago. I never ask for more than a few k of credit and have no debts.

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http://www.theguardi...k-supreme-court

An interesting case, what happened to the money PC World got from HFC bank for the laptop? Someone must have had the outstanding balance?

Is there more to this case than is being presented?

Well I don`t believe that anyone working offshore in Aberdeen in the late 90`s, especially in his post which sounds skilled and highly paid, would need credit for 1500 quid, and I don`t believe that they would need a mortgage to buy a house either, he could have spent the legal fees on a house (who paid them, him or legal aid?) or saved his probably considerable salary and paid cash. Story sounds like total B.S to me, the fact that someone would pursue it this long, he could have done more damage to PC world by just posting on websites flagging this up and telling people to watch out for it?

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This will only happen more often with the credit agencies taking on data from landlords, now they are storing rent payment data on individuals credit files.

And the more they do that, the quicker the system eats itself, because the system needs people to lend to? However I have my doubts about this case, the guy would have been on the kind of money where you don`t need credit, unless you are a total spending junkie? ( I have heard that the offshore lifestyle makes people, especially the women left behind for two or three weeks at a time, do silly things with money to compensate)

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I bet he didn't try to get a mortgage in 2004-2006. All he needed then was a pulse.

Sometimes with a credit card you don't even need that.

My link

Kelly Sloan's dog Spark could be eligible for up to $30,000 in credit, even though the sheltie-spaniel mix died 10 years ago.

The Sarnia man was leafing through his mail last week when he found a letter from Capital One, urging its addressee to apply for a special credit card offer.

"We're not offering our low long-term rate to just anyone," said the letter, addressed to Spark Sloan, who died at age 13.

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And the more they do that, the quicker the system eats itself, because the system needs people to lend to? However I have my doubts about this case, the guy would have been on the kind of money where you don`t need credit, unless you are a total spending junkie? ( I have heard that the offshore lifestyle makes people, especially the women left behind for two or three weeks at a time, do silly things with money to compensate)

You can never quite tell who's on what money. I have known 30 year old well qualified lads on less than 30k a year. He may have been on mega coin, who knows. He doesnt sound all that bright, he did rack up some substantial CC debt. But he may have had reasons. Offshore sends people a little bonkers as well. As you say though some of this doesnt add up.

My take is if you want something from the man and need credit to get it , you are the mans bitc*h, you have to do what he says. Play by the mans rules or dont play at all( recommended option IMO).

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Well I don`t believe that anyone working offshore in Aberdeen in the late 90`s, especially in his post which sounds skilled and highly paid, would need credit for 1500 quid, and I don`t believe that they would need a mortgage to buy a house either, he could have spent the legal fees on a house (who paid them, him or legal aid?) or saved his probably considerable salary and paid cash. Story sounds like total B.S to me, the fact that someone would pursue it this long, he could have done more damage to PC world by just posting on websites flagging this up and telling people to watch out for it?

I bought a PC from PC World I think in 1998 too and while I had the money to pay cash they refused to sell me the machine without taking the HFC finance so pressure sold a product I did not need (basically 'free' digital 1meg camera only came with machine if I took out the finance.

Worst was to come I cleared the balance in full before the second payment was to be taken then they started chasing me for non payment of agreed minimum even though my balance was clearly zilch, they couldn't see the wood through the trees and would not hear this sending 'bailiff' letters to my mums address.

the minimum payment was set up not to clear the full balance in the interest free period and I saw quite a few bankers (where I worked at the time) get stung fir eye watering interest charges back dated to the time the original finance agreements were taken, by accident or design I wonder?!!! Scum.

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I was always under the impresion doing the above gives you a better credit rating

Its having a card and being up to date with payments that counts i.e. you dont get a better rating by having a large outstanding balance IFAIK.

My credit rating is 999 (theoretical maximum) and I have had no loans and only debit/charge cards for the last 10 years or so.

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If youre contracting youll make 400-500 a day for an OK job offshore.

If you are employed then wages seem to be around 75K per year which after tax etc... isnt a great deal once tax has been taken off.

The days of people offshore earning silly money have long gone.

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If youre contracting youll make 400-500 a day for an OK job offshore.

If you are employed then wages seem to be around 75K per year which after tax etc... isnt a great deal once tax has been taken off.

If you are properly offshore and live aboard ship you can avoid tax altogether...

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