Help - Northumbrian Water - Issued Claim Against Me

Thunderballs_2
Thunderballs_2 Posts: 24 Forumite
edited 18 August 2015 at 12:08PM in Water bills
Northumbria Water have issued a Small Claim against me in the Northampton County Court Business Centre. Money Claims Online

Essentially I owe them just short of £140 for a 6 month period this year after having a water meter installed.

I paid them £30 in June and they issued this claim in August after 1 "missed" payment by me.

They have added £25 court Fee and £50 Solicitors costs to the claim.

I dont dispute I owe the £140.

I do dispute that they have handled this proportionately.

I have no record of bad payment EVER until this last few weeks.

I was just going to pay the £140 now and then dispute the costs added including the court fee of £25.

They can claim the £25 but my understanding is that the £50 solicitors fees , they cannot unless a judge decides to award those costs against the losing party.


My "defence" grounds being they have not acted proportionately under Pre-Action protocol..

http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/pd_pre-action_conduct#4.1

If I dispute the claim, then it will be allocated then that incurs £40 + more fees for them that they can recover against me without much difficulty.

So I might save £10...but I suppose there may be some additional costs Northumbria Water might incur for having to administer the allocation and rest of the Small Claims process versus me rolling over now. These costs could be passed on to me if a judge agrees.

I dont want a CCJ recorded against me but that wont happen in any case because I will pay within a few days of getting any judgment, if I eventually end up with a judgement against me.

At the same time I think Northumbria Water are abusing the court system because their actions to recover the "debt" are not proportionate and they have not really attempted to resolve the situation sufficiently without resulting to court action.

In any case I am going to file a complaint against them with the Consumer Council for Water for them for being so aggressive and quick to legal action. http://www.ccwater.org.uk/adviceandcomplaints/


On the face of it I can roll over or I can make what i consider to be some stand against overly aggressive debt recovery using MCOL.

Any advice, opinions or similar experiences ?

Comments

  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
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    'Essentially I owe them just short of £140 for a 6 month period this year

    There needs to be more detail to really comment.

    You don't say the date of this bill, but presumably that £140 was due on 31 March 2015?? and you then agreed a plan to pay £30 monthly, and you defaulted on that plan??

    I suspect from your post you are far better informed about the legal aspects of debt collection than most members of this forum.

    However as you asked for opinions, if the debt does go back to March, it does not seem to me that they have acted 'disproportionately' in taking legal steps to get the debt paid.
  • macman
    macman Posts: 52,955
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    What alternative action do you think NW might have used in order to recover the debt? As soon as the payment becomes overdue they are entitled to commence legal action to recover it-there is no statutory grace period, however heavy handed such action might seem. The fees do not seem unreasonable, since £50 will typically buy you about ten minutes of a solicitor's time.
    No free lunch, and no free laptop ;)
  • Thunderballs_2
    Thunderballs_2 Posts: 24 Forumite
    edited 18 August 2015 at 5:37PM
    The "debt" is back to June 2015. They got £30 in June. No other history of "debt".

    I swapped to water meter sometime this year.

    Got this bill late May they slapped the Mrs onto £45 a month DD end of May.

    Cancelled it and paid the £30. Then she "missed" paying them in July ..after a red notice.

    Prior to moving to a water meter used to pay on DD for years without fail or issue.

    Northumbrian Water were up to shady tactics and called out last year along with lots of other water cos.

    http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/northumbrian-water-among-suppliers-accused-7945880

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-29599359

    In no way could you call my debt "bad debt" either.
  • GingerBob_3
    GingerBob_3 Posts: 3,659 Forumite
    And guess what NW are about to start doing? Yep. Reporting their customers to the CRAs. They are the latest water company to have succumbed to CRA bribery. Of course if they don't really know who you are then it can be difficult for them to do so, so never furnish personal details to them.


    I think they start customer reporting in November, so you might avoid them blacklisting you for mortgage and credit purposes if you get it sorted out quickly.
  • GingerBob wrote: »
    And guess what NW are about to start doing? Yep. Reporting their customers to the CRAs. They are the latest water company to have succumbed to CRA bribery. Of course if they don't really know who you are then it can be difficult for them to do so, so never furnish personal details to them.


    I think they start customer reporting in November, so you might avoid them blacklisting you for mortgage and credit purposes if you get it sorted out quickly.

    Smashing.

    You tell people not to give names out but most not born without a litttle bag and two plums just cant help it !

    Only £15 a month subscription to Experian to "manage" your credit file ... or at least one of them..
  • samsmoot
    samsmoot Posts: 736 Forumite
    edited 21 August 2015 at 1:21AM
    I'd be the first to urge you to take them on - if you had a chance of winning - but I don't think that's likely.


    If you really wanted to have a go you'd need to have a bit of imagination and sound knowledge of the CPR, or an ability to bluff it.


    You could, for example, send the £140 to NW and tell them that that's fair because they didn't give you a reasonable enough chance to settle before making the claim, and haven't, in fact, followed procedure. You could say that you will challenge the added costs - which is due to their jumping the gun and not complying with the CPR - their fault. The threat could be that if they proceed to court for just the added costs (or just the solicitor costs) - and if they aren't awarded them by the judge - you will be seeking costs in your favour, including your litigant in person's costs @ £18 PH (Para 16(a)).


    But after having a good look through the Practice Directions I see no get-out by relying on this if they put you to the test - I see nothing in this part of the CPR which I think would help your case.


    You could take a look at 5.2 of Practice Direction 7E:


    https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part07/pd_part07e


    and see if the Particulars have been served properly. Another long shot, but hey - like I said, you have to be imaginative.


    I'd probably do something along these lines - and also maybe insist on ADR - apply for striking out of their Particulars - applying for set-aside - any procedure that slows them down and costs them. But that's only because nothing can be taken from me and water companies in general cause me much annoyance.


    I'd suggest you pay up though - it's definitely the sensible thing to do. Don't listen to me - I'm biased and militant.
  • It turned out the Mrs hadnt rang and agreed a payment plan - she had just sent them the first payment.

    So essentially they took her to court a couple of months after not paying the bill after having a flawless history with them previously and having moved over to a meter within the year.

    Bill was paid in full after the above and before any more charges.
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