UK & World News
Laptop Man Wins Credit Blacklist Court Case
A man who was put on a credit blacklist after a row over payments for a laptop computer has won a 16-year legal battle, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Richard Durkin bought the laptop at a PC World shop in Aberdeen in 1998 and signed a credit agreement with lender HFC Bank for around £1,500, judges at the Supreme Court heard.
Mr Durkin then returned the computer the next day on the basis that it did not have the internal modem he had required when he bought it, and asked for the credit agreement to be cancelled.
But the bank insisted he had to keep making payments and, when he refused, issued a default notice.
It went on to tell credit reference agencies he had defaulted and his name was put on a credit register where it remained for several years.
That prompted Mr Durkin to take legal action, arguing that he had "validly rescinded" the credit agreement, and saying that his bad credit rating blocked him from owning a home.
Britain's highest court has now ruled in his favour, saying he was entitled to rescind the credit agreement and had done so "validly".
Mr Durkin's solicitor, Ross Slater, said the decision had major implications for people with debts, clarifying the link between a credit agreement and a contract of sale.
And he said it meant that lenders would have to make inquiries about the validity of debts before "blackening" people's "credit names".
"From the point of view of the debtor, they are going to be able to rely on the fact that the bank cannot just simply say 'We are going to report you to whoever' and blacken their name," said Mr Slater, from Glasgow-based law firm Patrick Campbell & Company.
"It's a huge decision. There are potentially millions of agreements that could have fallen into this problem."
Mr Durkin had initially claimed £250,000 damages, arguing that he had been unable to put down a deposit for a home because his credit rating blocked him - he was later awarded £100,000 but that was overturned on appeal.