Thursday 18 January 2018

After 16 years and £250,000, man wins epic court battle over £1,500 laptop

Richard Durkin, who will receive £8,000 in damages, said the Supreme Court ruling was a "victory for all consumers"

Richard Durkin
Richard Durkin

A man has won a 16-year battle over payments for a laptop computer after spending a reported £250,000 in legal fees.

Richard Durkin, 44, took his case to the UK's highest court after claiming lender HFC Bank, now part of HSBC, ruined his credit rating after a dispute over the purchase of a £1,500 laptop.

The Supreme Court in London has now allowed his appeal and ruled that he should receive £8,000 in damages.

Mr Durkin bought a laptop at a PC World store in Aberdeen in 1998, on the understanding that he could return it if the laptop did not have an internal modem.

He paid a £50 deposit and signing a credit agreement with HFC for £1,449.

 He returned the laptop at 9am the next day because it did not have an internal modem and asked for his deposit back and for the credit agreement to be cancelled.

PC World refused to accept the rejection of the goods and did not cancel the credit agreement. Mr Durkin eventually had the £50 deposit returned in an out-of-course settlement.

HFC, now part of HSBC, said he had to keep making payments under the credit agreement and later issued a default notice to credit reference agencies. The notice remained on their registers until 2005.

Mr Durkin, an offshore surveyor, argued that being wrongly blacklisted meant he was unable to buy a house in Spain in 2003, as well as being shut out of 0pc balance transfer deals.

Mr Durkin took his case to court and initially won damages of £116,000, but the ruling was later overturned.

Mr Durkin told the BBC that the Supreme Court judgement was a “victory for all consumers”.

He said he was disappointed the Supreme Court did not restore the full damages awarded by a Scottish court.

Mr Durkin said: “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 of me.”

He added: “Taking a case to any court is a huge stress, but taking it to the highest court in the land with all the risks that go with it was the most stressful thing that anyone could voluntarily put themselves through.

“But sometimes you have to do what is right, and not what is easy.”

The Supreme Court in London today ruled that Mr Durkin was entitled to rescind the credit agreement and had done so “validly”. Five justices delivered their judgement.

Mr Durkin said: "I am grateful to my legal team, and to the Law Society of Scotland who funded the court fees which I could not afford.

"But I am most grateful for an end to this matter now, having fought a long and difficult battle which at last is over."

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