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County Court Judgements illegal - Northampton 'fraud' centre

 
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TonyGosling
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2016 12:35 pm    Post subject: County Court Judgements illegal - Northampton 'fraud' centre Reply with quote

Lives ruined for a sake of a penny: Huge rise in 'debt' judgements against families who knew nothing about them
More than 2,000 rulings being made a day without open court process
The CCJs - county court judgements - are pushed by firms seeking 'debts'
Often families know nothing about the orders which affect credit scores
Have you had a CCJ that you were not warned about and had no chance to defend? Contact the Daily Mail Investigations Unit via ccj@dailymail.co.uk
By PAUL BENTLEY AND GLEN KEOGH FOR DAILY MAIL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT
PUBLISHED: 22:48, 11 September 2016 | UPDATED: 23:35, 11 September 2016
http://casehub.com/cases/parking-eye-ccj-fines
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3784457/Huge-rise-debt-judgeme nts-against-families.html

Families are being financially crippled by county court judgments they knew nothing about, the Daily Mail reveals today.

Hard-working professionals have had to sell their homes and even their businesses after rulings that they had no chance to contest.

Banks, utility companies and parking cowboys are obtaining the judgments (CCJs) at an anonymous building in Northampton over alleged debts as small as 1p. Last night, the Ministry of Justice launched an investigation into the Mail’s findings, as campaigners compared them to the PPI scandal over mis-sold insurance.

The heart-breaking stories we uncovered included:

Newlyweds who lost their dream house because a water bill was sent to the groom’s old university digs;
A family who found themselves homeless because of someone else’s parking ticket;
A jeweller who was forced to sell his home and shop because a mistaken parking ticket cost him £30,000.
More than 2,000 judgments are being signed off every day, without the cases being defended or heard by a judge in open court. The number of CCJs has risen by more than a third in just three years – almost 900,000 were issued last year, and 85 per cent were uncontested.

Car crash: Sue and Antony Evans couldn't get a mortgage because of a CCJ which was on Antony's file which he didn't know about
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Car crash: Sue and Antony Evans couldn't get a mortgage because of a CCJ which was on Antony's file which he didn't know about

The judgments – which stay on a person’s credit file for six years – are issued against people who fail to pay a bill.

But the Mail has discovered that a growing number of financially responsible people are having CCJs obtained against them without their knowledge.

They often result from the chaos of a house move, when people forget to update their utility provider, bank or phone company promptly. Bills and CCJ claims are then sent to the old address and they have no chance to dispute the order or pay.

In other cases, people have had CCJ claims sent to old addresses even though they have updated all their records.

Many only find out about the judgments years later when they are refused mortgages or business loans.

Those who have CCJs taken out against them include customers of HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, NatWest, Vodafone, O2, npower, United Utilities and parking companies.

Courts minister Sir Oliver Heald said last night: ‘These are serious claims which will be looked at urgently. Our legal system is world-leading and we are determined to ensure that it is not open to abuse.’

Lost their dream house: Kristian and Laura Hancocks with their children Charlie and Bethan
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Lost their dream house: Kristian and Laura Hancocks with their children Charlie and Bethan - they found out he had a CCJ against when he was declined a mortgage at the last minute

County courts have an important role to ensure debts are paid, and to protect people and businesses from crooks.

Those found not to have paid back money they owe have CCJs placed on their official credit records as a warning to banks, landlords and employers.

But in an apparent perversion of the system, hundreds of thousands of consumers are having CCJs obtained against them every year over alleged debts, without any defence being heard in open court.

Private parking firm ParkingEye – which runs car parks at hospitals, supermarkets and hotels – made more than 60,000 CCJ claims against drivers in the past three years, with its smallest judgment being for 1p.

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The Ministry of Justice figures do not provide any more information about the victims or what happened in their cases.

The companies have been allowed to file bulk claims for CCJs to a court office building in Northampton using an electronic system.

When they make a claim, the firms provide the office with address details for the customer they are pursuing. Claim forms are then posted out by the court and if there is no reply in 14 days, the CCJ is automatically processed by administrative staff.

Crucially, the court does not check the addresses or ask for proof that they are correct.

Almost every person who spoke to the Mail about unfairly receiving a CCJ said they knew nothing about the claims at the time because correspondence had been sent to old addresses.

Mortgage refused: Media consultant James Smith was turned down because of a CCJ he knew nothing about
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Mortgage refused: Media consultant James Smith was turned down because of a CCJ he knew nothing about

Mason Bullock Solicitors, which specialises in the cases, said it was contacted by at least two people every day who had discovered they had a CCJ passed against them that they were not warned about.

Bob Neill, Tory MP and chairman of the Commons justice committee, said last night: ‘The Mail’s investigation raises very serious issues. People should always know if court proceedings are being taken against them and have the chance to defend claims.’

Political campaigner Baroness Ros Altmann said the CCJ system was giving unscrupulous firms a ‘licence to steal’. She added: ‘There is a serious flaw in the UK legal system. If big companies are relying on this as a means of income then they should be forced to repay, like with PPI.’

People can apply to have CCJs set aside, but it costs £255 and can take up to a year. Three out of four people applying to have them set aside are successful.

Barclays, NatWest, HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group, which owns Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland, said they made every effort to contact customers who they believed owed them money, and CCJs were a last resort.

Vodafone, O2 and npower said they did not pursue CCJs themselves, while Severn Trent Water and United Utilities said they took multiple steps to contact customers, and only took them to court over debts of more than £100.

ParkingEye said: ‘Where individuals provide evidence they have received a CCJ by default due to ParkingEye receiving incorrect address details, we will consent to the judgement being set aside, often at our expense.’





Theresa May vows to investigate ‘abuse’ of CCJ system after Daily Mail investigation revealed families being financially crippled over debts as low as 1p
PM’s intervention came as we revealed stories of devastating judgments
Banks and parking cowboys are obtaining thousands of CCJs every year
More than eight in ten of the county court judgements are uncontested
Victims left being turned down for mortgages and face escalating fines
Have you had a CCJ that you were not warned about and had no chance to defend? Contact the Daily Mail Investigations Unit via ccj@dailymail.co.uk
By PAUL BENTLEY, JAMES SLACK AND RICHARD MARSDEN FOR DAILY MAIL
PUBLISHED: 22:01, 12 September 2016 | UPDATED: 08:52, 13 September 2016
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3786132/I-ll-end-credit-rating -scandal-pledges-PM-acts-Mail-exposes-rulings-ruined-lives.html

Theresa May has pledged to root out abuse of county court judgments following a Daily Mail investigation.

Our reporters discovered that families are being financially crippled by rulings they knew nothing about. Some lost their homes and even their businesses.

The Prime Minister’s intervention came as more Mail readers told of devastating judgments against them that they had no chance to contest.

Banks, utility companies and parking cowboys are obtaining hundreds of thousands of CCJs every year at an office building in Northampton over alleged debts of as little as 1p.

More than eight in ten are uncontested, with victims saying warnings are often sent to old addresses, which means they cannot challenge them.

Heartbreaking stories include a family left homeless over a stranger’s parking ticket and newlyweds who missed out on a dream home because a water bill went to the groom’s old university house.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘There is an investigation now under way. We have a strong legal system and it is important that it cannot be abused. That is why the Ministry of Justice is now taking work to look into the specific issue around CCJs.’

Today we also reveal how:

A £50million compensation case is being launched by families who had their finances wrecked by CCJs they knew nothing about;
Baroness Altmann has lodged an urgent question in the House of Lords urging reform;
The DVLA is accused of colluding with parking cowboys by selling drivers’ details for almost £10million a year;
An NHS hospital’s parking wardens took out a £2,000 CCJ against a therapist’s husband.
Ministers, campaigners and victims spoke out yesterday after the Mail exposed the scandal.

Dozens of readers said that CCJs had made it virtually impossible for them to get mortgages or even phone contracts because of the damage to their credit rating.

Over the past three years, the number of CCJs has risen by more than a third, with almost 900,000 issued last year. More than 2,000 are issued a day without any defence being heard in court.

Baroness Altmann, political campaigner and former pensions minister, said: ‘It is an absolute outrage people can have court cases against them which they know nothing about.’

One of the most prolific firms that pursue people for CCJs is ParkingEye, which runs private car parks at hospitals, supermarkets and hotels.

Figures uncovered by the Mail show ParkingEye made 60,291 county court claims in the past three years. In one uncontested case, the firm was awarded 1p.

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Motorists who have had CCJs from ParkingEye without any chance to defend themselves are now lodging a compensation claim against the firm. The case is being put together by CaseHub, a legal site run by Cambridge law graduate Michael Green.

He believes as many as 10,000 people will join the case and hopes each could receive £5,000.

‘We already have hundreds of people coming forward who found out they have CCJs but never received letters,’ said Mr Green.

Baroness Altmann said the CCJ scandal was an 'absolute outrage'
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Baroness Altmann said the CCJ scandal was an 'absolute outrage'

‘A lot of the people coming forward, often in tears, are disabled pensioners, single mothers surviving on a day-to-day basis, or NHS staff – nurses, doctors and surgeons.’

Andrew Crisp, partner at Mason Bullock Solicitors, specialises in setting aside CCJs. He said: ‘Most people who contact us are good natured people who have not deliberately run up debt and have never been in debt before.’

Marc Gander, of the Consumer Action Group, said: ‘The CCJ system is dreadful and needs to be rethought.’

Once firms have obtained a CCJ, it makes it much easier to force payment from a customer in a dispute. If you do not pay, an order can be made for the money to be deducted from your wages.

ParkingEye said it would never make a CCJ claim for 1p but that when drivers do not pay their debt in full a court can issue a judgment on any sum outstanding.

A spokesman added: ‘ParkingEye would be happy to cooperate with any proposed government review. ParkingEye does everything it can to ensure we use the correct details when contacting motorists. Every case is carefully reviewed before we decide to pursue legal action.’


Parking touts pay DVLA £10m a year

The DVLA stands accused of colluding with parking cowboys by selling them drivers’ details for almost £10million a year.

Private firms pay the quango for information on more than 9,000 motorists a day.

Accessing the names and addresses allows them to hound drivers to pay ‘fines’ for staying too long outside NHS hospitals, supermarkets and hotels.

They can have county court judgments passed against the motorists, crippling their finances for six years.

Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency figures show that in the past three years it has doubled its income from private parking firms, rising from £4.7million a year to £9.3million.

The DVLA stands accused of colluding with parking cowboys by selling them drivers’ details for almost £10million a year
+4
The DVLA stands accused of colluding with parking cowboys by selling them drivers’ details for almost £10million a year

Last year it received more than three and a half million applications for drivers’ details from 93 private parking companies, with the applications costing £2.50 at a time. ParkingEye – a firm that makes tens of thousands of CCJ claims against motorists – paid £3million last year for 1,200,284 requests.

In 2006/7, there were only 272,215 electronic requests from all firms.

The increase follows a ban on clamping that came into force in October 2012 following a Daily Mail campaign.

Philip Gomm, spokesman for the RAC Foundation, said: ‘We thought private parking problems would be solved after the ban on clamping and yet four years later arguably even more people are being affected. This has become a multi-million pound industry.

‘Has the problem really increased so much that the DVLA needs to be selling so many more records? Or are private parking companies seeing a good way of making money that is skewed in their favour? This surely demands investigation by ministers.’

The DVLA, which holds details of all registered vehicle keepers, claims the costs involved with providing driver data are in line with its charges. It made a profit of £200,000 selling driver data to private parking firms in 2014/15 and a loss of £300,000 doing so the previous year.

A DVLA spokesman said: ‘The relevant legislation allows for a fee to be charged to cover the cost of processing requests, to ensure that the cost is borne by the requestor and not passed on to the taxpayer.

‘We are very open about which companies and organisations request data from us and how many requests they make.’

A 20 MINUTE MISTAKE NEARLY COST ME MY DREAM HOME
Lisa Fisher said the CCJ claim was 'holding me to ransom'
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Lisa Fisher said the CCJ claim was 'holding me to ransom'

Lisa Fisher and Brian Hennessy were about to buy a new home when they found out she had a county court judgment against her.

Their offer had to be withdrawn and the couple were given just days to put the matter right or another bidder would be allowed to step in.

The 33-year-old recruitment consultant was stunned to discover the charge was due to her stopping for fewer than 20 minutes at a restricted car park near East Midlands Airport in 2013.

Miss Fisher had collected Mr Hennessy, a 36-year-old plumber, from the airport in the dark at night and had seen no warning signs.

The subsequent CCJ claim was sent to an old address, so she had no way of contesting it. Miss Fisher said: ‘I was completely unaware at the time that I was parking illegally.’

Miss Fisher, who now lives in Northern Ireland, was forced to pay £200 to satisfy the CCJ.

She eventually got a mortgage, but is still furious. ‘They were holding me to ransom,’ she said. ‘I could have lost the property.’


£60 fine turned into £2,000

Parking contractors obtained a county court judgment for almost £2,000 over a £60 ticket.

Nicholas Diable was handed the parking ticket in 2013 when living in staff accommodation at Oxford University Hospital, where his wife Laura was working as an NHS therapist.

The 36-year-old lawyer contested the ticket and mistakenly thought the matter had been dealt with. Further correspondence did not reach him because he moved out of the hospital to a new home.

The fine increased from £60 to almost £2,000 because the contractors imposed deadlines for payment and increased the amount steadily each time.

Mr Diable eventually paid the fine and extra costs. He says the hospital should have realised he and his partner had changed address.

http://casehub.com/cases/parking-eye-ccj-fines

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