A hollow victory has been won in the Supreme Court by a man from Aberdeen, after a 16 year long battle.
Richard Durkin bought a laptop from PC World back in 1998 for £1,499 and signed into a credit agreement with HFC Bank, to pay the full amount over a period of time. Having found a fault with the laptop, he returned it to the store the next day and asked for the agreement to be cancelled.
However, the bank did not recognise the return of the faulty laptop and insisted that Durkin continue with the credit agreement. They then issued a default notice again Durkin for non-payment of the agreement after he refused to pay stating that he had valid grounds for rescinding the agreement. This resulted in Durkin being credit blacklisted and his credit rating being ruined.
Since then, he has been at war with the justice system and HFC Bank to fix his credit rating as he has not been able to get mortgages or loans, a restriction that has had a large impact on his and his family’s life.
He implied during a BBC interview that before this case, he was looking at purchasing a villa in Spain, but is now in such debt, approx £250,000, that he is not able to apply for a loan or a mortgage.
Initially a judge in a Scottish court had rule in Durkin’s favour and awarded him £100,000 but this was later overturned on appeal. The Court of Appeal in London agreed that Durkin had validly rescinded the credit agreement and awarded him £8,000 stating that the HFC Bank had failed in their duty of care towards him.
Mr Durkin’s solicitor, Frances McCartney, said: “This decision has far-reaching implications for the financial industry and indeed the consumer. Credit providers will need to establish they made reasonable inquiry about the validity of a debt prior to referring (or even threatening to refer) an individual to a credit reference agency. It is their obligation. Failure to do so will lead to a potential claim for compensation if the debt is not established.
“Given the number of years that have elapsed since the Consumer Credit Act 1974, there are likely to be many thousands of people affected by this decision.”