After 16 years of dispute and sinking into debt, Richard Durkin settled a battle with HFC Bank in a credit debacle over a laptop.
Durkin says HFC Bank destroyed his credit rating after he returned the laptop and tried to get out of the credit agreement he made to make the purchase.
In 1998, Durkin purchased a £1,499 computer using credit from HFC Bank. Upon deciding that he no longer wanted the computer, he proceeded to return it to the Aberdeen branch of PC World, thinking he would get his deposit on the credit line back and that the credit line would be closed.
Banks often put in extra measure to prevent credit fraud and you can see some of the ways independent companies protect you by checking out StopCreditFraud.org.
When Durkin originally applied for credit to make his laptop purchase, he paid £50 to PC World to purchase the laptop on credit, and was assured by the Aberdeen store employee that the laptop could be returned should there be any issues.
Durkin took the laptop home and soon discovered it had no modem built into it; something he was expecting.
He returned the laptop and received his £50 back. He thought the credit line was closed and all was good. However, this was not the case. HFC told him he was still required to make payments under the terms of the credit agreement.
Durkin took his battle to court and initially won, being awarded £116,000 in damages in 2008 by the Aberdeen Sheriff Court, which ruled he was entitled to return the laptop and close out the credit line. However, this initial ruling was soon overturned due to a legal technicality.
Durkin filed an appeal, and the Supreme Court in London, after accepting and reviewing it, ruled that he should receive £8,000 in damages.
In Durkin’s eyes, this was a victory for consumers, but a financial devastation for him, having spent a total of £250,000 in legal fees.
Lord Hodge, who delivered the Supreme Court judgment in this case stated: “I would allow the appeal and declare that Mr. Durkin was entitled to rescind and validly rescinded the credit agreement by giving notice to HFC in about February 1999.
"Damages resulting from HFC's breach of its duty of care are confined to injury to Mr. Durkin's credit in the sum of £8,000.
"I would give the parties an opportunity to agree the date from which interest should run and the rate or rates of interest to be applied."
Lord Hodge said the Supreme Court did not have the power to restore the damages originally awarded to Mr. Durkin, citing the Court of Session Act 1988 "limits the role of the supreme court in relation to such appeals."
Durkin said, "Although I am disappointed that the supreme court was unable to restore to me the full damages awarded by the sheriff – even though it was clear they were sympathetic to my position – this decision is a great victory for all consumers, and I am proud to have been the driving force behind it. As a result of the decision, no consumer will have to endure again what I had to put up with: the loss of the ability to buy a family home because of wrongful blacklisting."