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GRACE & ANR – and – BLACK HORSE LIMITED [2014] EWCA Civ 1413 30/10/2014

Grace v Black Horse approved jgt ( PDF DOWNLOAD)

 

Neutral Citation Number: [2014] EWCA Civ 1413
Case No: B2/2013/0424
IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)
ON APPEAL FROM CHESTER COUNTY COURT
JUDGE HALBERT
9CH05795
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
Date: 30/10/2014
Before :
THE MASTER OF THE ROLLS
LORD JUSTICE BEATSON
and
LORD JUSTICE BRIGGS
- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -
Between :
GRACE & ANR Appellants
- and -
BLACK HORSE LIMITED Respondent
- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -
- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -
THOMAS BRENNAN (instructed by QUALITY SOLICITORS HOWLETT CLARKE)
for the APPELLANTS
KATE URELL (instructed by G.J. COOPER) for the RESPONDENT
Hearing dates : Monday 6th October 2014
- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -
APPROVED JUDGMENT
Judgment Approved by the court for handing down. Grace and anr v Black Horse
Lord Justice Briggs :
1. On 2nd September 1997 the first appellant Mr. William Grace bought his grandson a
laptop computer. He did so by entering into a hire purchase agreement with
Chartered Trust PLC (“CTP”), the predecessor in title of the respondent, Black Horse
Limited. It was a regulated agreement within the meaning of the Consumer Credit
Act 1974 (“the CCA”), with the consequence that CTP was obliged, pursuant to s. 63,
to supply Mr. Grace with a copy of it. The purported copy differed in material
respects from the agreement which Mr. Grace had signed (as to interest rate and
APR). The result was that, pursuant to s. 63(5), the agreement was not properly
executed.
2. In those days, the draconian consequence of CTP’s failure to comply with s. 63 was
not merely that, pursuant to s. 65, the agreement was unenforceable against Mr. Grace
otherwise than by an order of the court. By s. 127(4), the court was prohibited from
enforcing a regulated agreement where its improper execution was the result of a
breach of s. 63. Mr. Grace’s agreement was, as the judge put it, “irremediably
unenforceable”. It could never have been enforced against Mr. Grace by CTP or
(later) by Black Horse. Even though the rigour of s. 127 has since been ameliorated,
in relation to regulated agreements made in or after April 2007, it remains in full force
in relation to earlier agreements, so that Mr. Grace’s agreement was and remains
permanently unenforceable, against him.
3. Mr. Grace fell into arrears under the agreement, initially because he closed the
business account from which instalments were being made by direct debit. This led to
the imposition of penalty charges by CTP which, since Mr. Grace regarded the direct
debit breakdown as CTP’s fault, he protested by refusing to make any further
payments at all.
4. Eventually CTP brought proceedings in respect of the mounting arrears (by then just
under £700 plus penalties) and, on 10th April 2000, entered a default judgment which
was registered against Mr. Grace with credit reference agencies (“CRAs”).
5. There followed a series of county court hearings in 2000 during which (probably on
the court’s own initiative) the unenforceability of the agreement came to light. The
result was that the default judgment was set aside, CTP’s claim dismissed, with costs,
and CTP gave an undertaking to remove the default judgment registration, with which
it belatedly complied, in January 2003.
6. CTP then added the costs amount to the amount of the hire purchase debt for which
default judgment had previously been obtained, together with some other charges,
giving rise in its records to an apparent debt owed by Mr. Grace of £928. CTP then
wrote off that debt, but filed an entry with the CRAs alleging that Mr. Grace had
defaulted, in May 2000, in repayments of a loan in the sum of £928. It is this
registration (“the default registration”) which was the casus belli in the present
litigation. It is common ground that, by then, the contractual arrears and penalties
under the hire purchase agreement amounted to about £800 odd.
7. Mr. Grace found out about the default registration in September or October 2003.
Having raised the matter with the CRA Experian, he pursued his complaint with CTP
(by then known as Black Horse Finance Limited) in November and December 2003.

Black Horse vacated the default registration with the CRAs on 5th January 2004. Mr.
Grace’s claim in these proceedings is that, in the meantime, the existence of the
default registration had caused him to be unable to obtain banking facilities other than
a simple cash account, and that this disability persisted, even after the removal of the
default registration, until October 2004.
8. Meanwhile, Mr. Grace’s partner Mrs. Margaret George entered into a hire purchase
agreement with Capital Bank for the purchase of a static caravan at Talacre Beach in
North Wales. That agreement superseded an earlier agreement for a different caravan
which she made in 2002. Whereas the 2002 agreement involved an APR of 10.5%,
she incurred an APR of 17.9% under the 2003 agreement. In March 2006, as the
result of correspondence with Capital Bank by Mr. Grace on her behalf, she
discovered that the increased APR was attributable to the blot on his credit record
constituted by the default registration, since she was cohabiting with him. The hire
purchase agreement was later assigned by Capital Bank to Black Horse.
9. On 14th December 2009, Mr. Grace and Mrs. George issued a claim in the Chester
County Court seeking (among other things) damages for breach of statutory duty by
Black Horse under Section 13 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (“the DPA”), upon the
basis that the default registration involved a contravention of the Data Protection
Principles which had caused each of them damage, in his case due to his inability to
obtain satisfactory banking facilities and, in her case, due to the increased APR which
she incurred under the 2003 agreement.
10. Mrs. George had, on Mr. Grace’s advice, in the meantime ceased making payments
under the 2003 agreement, upon various grounds which I need not describe. The
result was that Black Horse counterclaimed for arrears under the 2003 agreement, and
sought delivery up of the caravan. In response, Mrs. George claimed rescission of the
2003 agreement for (among other things) misrepresentation which, she
acknowledged, would require the return of the caravan to Black Horse.
11. The claim and counterclaim were tried by HHJ Halbert in the Chester County Court
over three days starting on 28th August 2012. Mr. Grace and Mrs. George appeared
as litigants in person. There had been some doubt about Mrs. George’s fitness to
participate. It was resolved by a medical certificate from her GP, to the effect that,
while suffering short-term memory difficulties, she had full capacity to participate in
the proceedings, in particular by appointing Mr. Grace to represent her. The judge
was also given a letter signed by Mrs. George addressed to the court, conferring
“full authority to my partner Mr. William Brian Grace, to
represent me in the proceedings before the court, in claim
9CH05795.
He has my full consent to disclose and discuss and present all
aspects of my claim against Black Horse Limited, in which I
am second claimant.”
In the event, the substantial conduct of the trial was undertaken by Mr. Grace. Mrs.
George attended for parts of it, in particular to give evidence. She was not in
attendance on the final day of the trial.

12. At the end of closing submissions, and after the judge had indicated that he intended
to reserve the judgment, counsel for Black Horse (Miss Urell) raised a concern about
the caravan the subject of the 2003 agreement. It had become apparent during the
giving of evidence that it had been unused by the appellants for a year prior to trial,
that site rental payments were not being made, and that there was a threat from the
site landlords to remove it. This led to the following exchange between the judge,
Miss Urell and Mr. Grace:
“MISS URELL: Your Honour, there is just one other point
before I – -
HHJ HALBERT: Subside?
MISS URELL: Exactly. You heard evidence from John
Bloor about the state of the caravan and
[inaudible] to be a reserved judgment I
would have waited until the end, but the
fact of the matter is the caravan is, it would
appear about to be disposed of, uplifted,
etc, by – -
HHJ HALBERT: By the landlords.
MISS URELL: – - and [inaudible] goods. So we can’t
repossess it.
HHJ HALBERT: Well I think the simplest thing to do is
make an Order de bene esse in the
meantime.
MISS URELL: I’m grateful.
HHJ HALBERT: And that you go and get it because Mrs
George made it quite clear she doesn’t
want it any more.
MR GRACE: No, Your Honour.
HHJ HALBERT: So you might as well go and get it. So you
have as of now permission to go and
recover the caravan.
MISS URELL: I’m grateful.
HHJ HALBERT: What you’re going to do with it I
[inaudible] to think, but.
MR GRACE: Well it’s im-, it was immaculate, Your
Honour. It’s absolutely immaculate.
HHJ HALBERT: Well when did you last see it?
Judgment Approved by the court for handing down. Grace and anr v Black Horse
MR GRACE: About twelve months ago, but there’s no,
there’s nobody should have been in there
except – -
HHJ HALBERT: Well we’ll wait and see [inaudible].
MR GRACE: Well nobody at all really because it’s been
disconnected from the mains, the gas and
the electric. We did have a buyer for
£8,000 but we couldn’t sell it because it
was still under the hire purchase and that
would have gone at time to offset any
claim that we may have had, but we
couldn’t do it.
HHJ HALBERT: I understand. Right. Does that deal with it?
MISS URELL: I’m grateful.
HHJ HALBERT: Right Mr. Grace. Anything else you want
to add?”
13. There followed closing submissions by Mr. Grace, during which he made no
objection to the judge’s oral order concerning the caravan.
14. In his careful and detailed reserved judgment delivered in draft to the parties on 25th
September and handed down on 21st November 2012, the judge dismissed both Mr.
Grace and Mrs. George’s claims, and all her challenges to the enforceability of the
2003 agreement. By paragraph 2 of his Order made that day (and initialled by him a
week later) he gave:
“judgment on the Counterclaim for the Defendant to the extent
of the delivery up of the caravan (which has already been
effected) with money claim adjourned generally with liberty to
restore after the sale of the caravan.”
15. The judge dismissed the appellants’ claims on two grounds. The first was that, in
relation to the whole of Mrs. George’s claim and all of Mr. Grace’s claim other than
the loss due to inadequate banking facilities between December 2003 and October
2004, those claims were statute-barred. Secondly, he concluded that, although the
default registration had indeed involved a breach of the Data Protection Principles,
and had been the cause of their alleged loss, the loss was not attributable to the breach
of the principles. This was because, in his view, Black Horse could without any
breach of the DPA have registered Mr. Grace’s default under his hire purchase
agreement, even though unenforceable, in the lesser sum of £800-odd, which would
have caused him exactly the same damage to his credit rating, and the same loss to
Mrs. George by association as his co-habitee. In short, the appellants’ claims failed
largely because they were statute-barred but they failed entirely because they could
not establish causation.

16. I need not explain the judge’s reasons for finding that the 2003 agreement was
enforceable against Mrs. George, since permission to appeal has not been obtained in
relation to them. On their paper application, the appellants were refused any
permission to appeal by Arden LJ, but were granted permission by Clarke LJ on their
oral renewal upon two grounds, namely limitation and the propriety of the judge’s
November order for delivery up of the caravan. It may not have been apparent to
Clarke LJ from the way in which the oral application was presented to him, that
permission to appeal only in relation to limitation would not avail the appellants
anything in relation to their claims. In the event, the appellants have vigorously
pursued an appeal against the judge’s decision on causation, now professionally
represented by Mr. Thomas Brennan, and without oral objection by Miss Urell
(although she mentioned the point in her skeleton argument). As will shortly appear,
the causation issue has become the main, and most difficult, issue on this appeal. It
raises an important question as to the legitimacy of registration as a default with credit
reference agencies of a non-payment by a debtor (or hirer) of monies contracted to be
paid under a regulated but irremediably unenforceable credit agreement, which has
not previously been directly addressed in any reported decision. It is nonetheless
convenient to deal firstly with the limitation appeal.
Limitation
17. It was common ground between counsel that, save for the period of Mr Grace’s losses
after 14th December 2003, the Appellants’ claims fell foul of the primary six year
limitation period for claims for breach of statutory duty provided by S.9 of the
Limitation Act 1980. There was no Respondent’s Notice in relation to the judge’s
conclusion that Mr Grace’s losses after December 2003 were not statute barred. Had
that point been raised, it might have given rise to an interesting question about
whether a failure to remove an offending default registration is itself a continuing
breach.
18. The Appellants’ case on appeal was squarely based upon s.32 of the Limitation Act
1980, which provides for a postponement of the running of time in cases of fraud,
concealment or mistake. For present purposes the relevant provisions of s. 32 are as
follows:
(1) …where in the case of any action for which a period of limitation is
prescribed by this Act, …

(b) any fact relevant to the plaintiff’s right of action has been deliberately
concealed from him by the defendant

the period of limitation shall not begin to run until the plaintiff has discovered
the…concealment…or could with reasonable diligence have
discovered it.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) above, deliberate commission of a breach
of duty in circumstances in which it is unlikely to be discovered for some time
Judgment Approved by the court for handing down. Grace and anr v Black Horse
amounts to deliberate concealment of the facts involved in that breach of
duty.
19. Mr Brennan submitted that CTP’s default registration of a debt which had by then
been declared irremediably unenforceable, and for a sum which included costs
ordered to be paid by it to Mr Grace, was a deliberate breach of duty within s. 32(2)
which was unlikely to be discovered for some time, and that the judge should so have
held, thereby rescuing both claims from limitation.
20. There are in my view two fatal obstacles to that submission. The first is that it was
neither pleaded nor proved at trial that the breach was committed deliberately.
Although it may be said that a judge with claimants who are litigants in person and
are alleged to be statute barred may fairly consider what provisions of the Act might
offer an answer to their difficulties, there was nothing in the case before the judge to
suggest that the breach had been committed deliberately. Deliberate commission of a
breach of duty does not merely mean that the defendant is aware of what he is doing
when committing the breach. It requires that he be shown to have been aware at the
time that what he was doing was a breach of duty.
21. The second fatal obstacle, at least to Mr Grace, is that, on the materials before the
court at trial, he plainly discovered the breach more than six years before the
proceedings were commenced. Since he and Mrs George were cohabiting partners at
the time, it is a fair inference that she discovered the breach at much the same time,
albeit not that it had caused her loss. Mr Grace stated when he discovered the default
registration in his witness statement, and Mrs George did nothing to deny or dispel
that inference. The result is that if applicable at all, time started running in relation to
his claim under s. 32 (1), and probably her claim as well, more than six years before
they issued proceedings.
22. It follows that the appeal based upon s.32 must fail.
Causation
23. The Judge’s analysis of causation necessarily proceeded upon the basis, which he
fully explained in his judgment, that it would have been lawful (rather than a breach
of the DPA) for CTP to have registered as a default under Mr Grace’s hire purchase
agreement any arrears incurred by the time of the default registration, even though the
agreement to pay them had always been, and had by then been declared by a
competent court to be, irremediably unenforceable. He found that the default
registration was a breach of the DPA only because it was inaccurate, by specifying
£928 rather than £800 as the arrears, by describing the hire purchase agreement as a
loan agreement and by describing Mr Grace as a borrower rather than a hirer. He
found that CTP’s failure to review and remove or alter the registration was also a
breach of the DPA. He regarded it as unarguable that those breaches were causative
of Mr Grace’s loss, because a registration stating that he was in default as hirer under
a hire purchase agreement in the sum of £800 would have done exactly the same
damage to his credit rating.
24. The judge’s view that registration of arrears under an unenforceable credit agreement
was lawful, rather than a breach of the DPA, was based squarely upon the decision of
Flaux J in McGuffick v Royal Bank of Scotland [2009] EWHC 2386 (Comm). The
judge said (at paragraph 7.3.9) that:
“The effect of this judgment is that where an agreement is unenforceable under
the provisions of the CCA, the debt nonetheless subsists. If payments are made
under it they cannot be recovered and if payments are not made there is a default
in payment and the debtor (sic) is free to report the default to a credit reference
agency if it has a legitimate reason to do so and the sharing, between credit
providers, of information about the credit worthiness of potential borrowers is a
legitimate reason.”
25. McGuffick was a test case in which the lender had failed to provide upon request
information and documents relating to a regulated credit agreement contrary to s.77 of
the CCA with the consequence that the agreement had become temporarily
unenforceable, pending the provision of that material. Indeed, although it initially
could not find the material, RBS later continued to decline to provide it so as to
ensure that the court was properly seized of the issue whether reporting the arrears to
a CRA in the meantime was unlawful. Various species of possible unlawfulness were
considered, the foremost of which was that such a registration, or the threat of it,
would amount to a method of enforcement of the debt, contrary to s.77(4)(a).
Included among the species of possible unlawfulness was a breach of the first of the
DPA Principles, which requires data to be processed fairly and lawfully, and in
compliance with one of the conditions in Schedule 2. Condition 6 in Schedule 2 is
complied with if the processing is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate
interests of the processor or the third parties to whom the data is disclosed. The
question whether the registration of non-payment under an unenforceable credit
agreement as a default in payment was accurate, as required by the fourth principle,
does not appear to have been specifically in issue: see paragraph 23(8).
26. It was apparent to Flaux J that the issues which he was being asked to determine
might be affected by the fact that the agreement was, in the case before him, only
temporarily rather than irremediably unenforceable. Although asked to make rulings
about cases of irremediable unenforceability, he very properly declined to do so: see
paragraphs 19 to 21. The present case is therefore outside the confines of Flaux J’s
ruling. Nonetheless his judgment is the only considered analysis of the effect of
unenforceability upon the creditor’s freedom to make a CRA registration of arrears
under a regulated credit agreement, and therefore deserves close attention.
27. Flaux J was asked by counsel for the debtor to take the legal consequences of
unenforceability mainly from two earlier cases: Wilson v First County Trust Ltd
(No.2) [2004] 1AC 816 (HL) and Conister Trust Limited v John Hardman & Co and
McClure Naismith [2008] EWCA Civ 841 (CA). Both were cases about irremediable
unenforceability, but the issues in them were far removed from the question now
before this court. The relevant question in the Wilson case was whether, but for the
fact that the agreement had been made before the coming into force of the Human
Rights Act 1998, the effect of unenforceability was to infringe the creditor’s rights
under Art 6 of, and Art 1 of the First Protocol to, the Human Rights Convention. The
relevant question in the Conister Trust case was whether the contractual obligation of
the debtor under an unenforceable agreement was a ‘liability’ within the meaning of a
litigation funding scheme. I have not found it necessary to describe the reasoning in
either of those cases in further detail save to say that, in the Wilson case, their
Judgment Approved by the court for handing down. Grace and anr v Black Horse
Lordships were divided as to the correct analysis and their dicta were in any event
obiter and that the Conister case raised essentially a question of construction of a
private contract, rather than interpretation of the meaning of unenforceability under
the CCA.
28. The conclusion reached by Flaux J about the legal effect of remediable
unenforceability was that the underlying contract remained in force, the rights and
obligations under it were neither extinguished nor suspended, but that the enforcement
of those rights was itself suspended, for as long as the temporary unenforceability
lasted. He was fortified in this view by three decisions about other types of statutory
unenforceability, namely Taylor v Great Eastern Railway [1901] 1QB 774, Eastern
Distributors v Goldring [1957] 2QB 600 and Orakpo v Manson Investments Ltd
[1978] AC 95. The last of those concerned irremediable unenforceability under s.6(1)
of the Moneylenders Act 1927 due to the absence of a sufficient signed memorandum.
In that case, at p.106, Lord Diplock said that:
“Agreements or securities that are unenforceable are not devoid of all legal effect.
Payments made voluntarily pursuant to their terms are not recoverable…”
29. The final authority relied upon by Flaux J was R v Modupe [1991] CCLR 29, in which
the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) held that a contractual liability under a credit
agreement which was unenforceable otherwise than by a court order, under s.65 of the
CCA, was nonetheless still a liability of the debtor within the meaning of the phrase
‘evading an existing liability by deception’ in s.2(1)(b) of the Theft Act 1878. This
was not a case of irremediable unenforceability. In the court’s view s.65 merely
deprived the creditor of a self-help remedy by recovery of the subject matter of the
unenforceable hire purchase agreement.
30. It is clear that, in the analysis which I have thus far summarised, the reasoning
underpinning Flaux J’s conclusion that unenforceability did not deprive the contract
of all effect, but rather left in place the debtor’s liability under it, was not limited to
cases of temporary or remediable unenforceability. He declined to follow dicta to the
contrary in the Wilson case because they were inconsistent with earlier authority and
obiter: see paragraphs 67-68. Some of those earlier cases were about irremediable
unenforceability: e.g. the Orakpo case. But he then expressly distinguished the
Wilson case on the basis that it was not concerned with irremediable unenforceability,
and concluded, at paragraph 71:
“In those circumstances it seems to me that the argument that, during the period of
time when the bank was not compliant with section 77(1) (in relation to which the
bank accepts that for that period the agreement was unenforceable), the bank’s rights
had been completely extinguished or the bank had been deprived of those rights is a
somewhat artificial one. The analysis which recognises that the rights continue to
exist whilst being unenforceable during the period of non-compliance seems to me
much more consistent with the whole concept of redeemable unenforceability.”
31. In the present case, while in no doubt that Mr Grace’s agreement was irremediably
unenforceable (see paragraph 3.6), the judge treated the analysis in the McGuffick
case as applicable to all types of unenforceability under the CCA: see paragraph 7.3.9,
quoted above. Mr Brennan’s first line of attack by way of appeal is that he was
wrong to do so.
Judgment Approved by the court for handing down. Grace and anr v Black Horse
32. In one sense Mr Brennan is clearly right. Flaux J was clearly not laying down a single
rule for all cases of unenforceability, and he clearly did not regard his decision as
applicable to irremediable unenforceability, at least without further analysis, which
Judge Halbert did not provide. But I consider that his assumption to that effect was
nonetheless correct. My reasons follow.
33. The conclusion that even irremediable unenforceability leaves the underlying
agreement, and its rights and obligations, in place seems to me to flow inexorably
from the authorities about other forms of statutory unenforceability and, in particular,
from the Orakpo case which, as I have noted, was about irremediable
unenforceability. I agree with Flaux J that this conclusion is not displaced by the
obiter dicta in the Wilson case. Further, the CCA makes an apparently careful
distinction between unenforceability and voidness as the sanction for different kinds
of non- compliance by creditors: see ss. 59(1) and 173(1) which provide for voidness,
and ss. 65(1), 77(4)(a) and 90(1) which provide for various forms of unenforceability.
S.91(b) provides in terms for a release of the debtor from liability under the
agreement in the stated circumstances.
34. But this analysis does not answer the specific question with which we are concerned
namely, whether the registration as a default of unpaid amounts remaining due under
an unenforceable agreement amounts to a breach of the DPA. That question was put
to us by Mr Brennan by reference not to the first Principle (with which Flaux J dealt)
but with the fourth, which requires that personal data should be accurate. He
submitted that it was not accurate to stigmatise a debtor who had declined to make
payments under an irremediably unenforceable agreement as a defaulter, at least
without stating in the registered entry that the agreement was unenforceable. He said
that was a fortiori the case once (as here) the agreement had been declared to be
irremediably unenforceable by a competent court.
35. In support of that submission Mr Brennan pointed to paragraph 44 of the 2007 version
of the Data Protection Technical Guidance issued by the Information Commissioner,
which with reasonable clarity treats the refusal of a court to give judgment for an
alleged debt as a sufficient reason for not registering a default, or for withdrawing it.
More to the point he relied on the following dictum of Lord Hoffmann in Dimond v
Lovell [2002] 1AC 384, at 398 (where Mrs Dimond was the debtor under an
unenforceable credit agreement):
“The real difficulty, as it seems to me, is that to treat Mrs Dimond as having been
unjustly enriched would be inconsistent with the purpose of S.65(1). Parliament
intended that if a consumer credit agreement was improperly executed, then
subject to the enforcement powers of the court, the debtor should not have to pay.
This meant that Parliament contemplated that he might be enriched and I do not
see how it is open to the court to say that this consequence is unjust and should be
reversed by a remedy at common law: compare Orakpo v Manson Investments
Ltd [1978] AC 95.”

How, Mr Brennan asked rhetorically, could such a debtor be labelled a defaulter?

36. For Black Horse Miss Urell countered as follows. First, if it was the case (as I have
concluded that it was) that the underlying agreement remained lawful and in force,
then it necessarily followed that arrears under it could form the basis of an accurate
default registration, just as had happened in the McGuffick case. Looked at from the
viewpoint of the agreement, the arrears did involve a default, even if the creditor
could do nothing to enforce payment. Secondly, and as was accepted by Flaux J in
the McGuffick case (at paragraph 101), the CRAs’ computerised registration systems
do not accommodate endorsements about unenforceability. Thirdly, Mr Grace had
defaulted under his hire purchase agreement long before it was declared
unenforceable on technical grounds, and other lenders had a legitimate interest in
being able to find that out, in furtherance of the public policy favouring responsible
lending. While acknowledging that a default registration with a CRA was always a
stigma, she said that it was not inappropriate where the debtor was only immune from
enforcement on technical grounds. Finally she submitted that unenforceability under
the CCA was a specific statutory sanction which did not in terms include a prohibition
against default registration, and lenders should not be made to suffer that added
penalty by a sidewind.
37. I will take those submissions in turn. As to the first, I recognise that my conclusion
that the judge was right to equate the consequences of irremediable unenforceability
with those described by Flaux J as flowing from remediable unenforceability is a
large step towards a conclusion that there was therefore no breach of the DPA arising
from the default registration. But that consequence is not inevitable. Flaux J was not
asked to address an alleged breach of the fourth principle (i.e. because the registration
of the debtor as a defaulter was inaccurate). It may have been common ground that, if
the debt survived, then Mr McGuffick was a defaulter in relation to it, even though
payment could not be enforced. Equally, his conclusion that the registration was fair
and lawful (for the purposes of the first principle) may have involved an unspoken
conclusion that it was accurate.
38. As for the second submission, I have not been persuaded that the shortcomings in the
CRAs’ registration systems can excuse a registration which is in substance inaccurate
because of an omission (namely that the ‘default’ related to an unenforceable
agreement). If an accurate registration cannot be accommodated, then the answer is
for the industry to change its registration systems, and in the meantime for inaccurate
registrations not to be made.
39. Thirdly, there is nothing in Miss Urell’s point that Mr Grace defaulted before his
agreement had been declared unenforceable (and that on the court’s own motion).
The default registration was not made until after the judgment declaring
unenforceability, and asserted that he continued after that judgment to be a defaulter.
Nor is there merit in the submission that Mr Grace had escaped enforcement on
technical grounds. The requirements of the CCA for which unenforceability is the
sanction are part of a structure laid down by Parliament for the protection of
consumers and the regulation of the consumer credit market. Although they may be
technical in their application, and the consequences for non-compliance sometimes
draconian, they are not mere technicalities in the sense that Miss Urell described
them. In the present case for example the discrepancies in the copy agreement sent to
Mr Grace were about the interest rate and the APR under the hire purchase agreement.
Judgment Approved by the court for handing down. Grace and anr v Black Horse
There is nothing merely technical in the statutory requirement that these matters be
clearly and accurately set out for the consumer.
40. Finally, although there is some force in the submission that the sanction of
unenforceability should not be extended by a sidewind, it fails to address the real
question, which arises under the DPA, not the CCA. The real question is whether it
was accurate to describe Mr Grace as a defaulter, once his agreement has been
declared unenforceable.
41. I have not found the choice between these submissions at all easy. But in the end I
have concluded that Mr Brennan is right. It was not accurate to describe Mr Grace as
a defaulter under his hire purchase agreement once a competent court had decided that
it was irremediably unenforceable against him. My reasons follow.
42. It is common ground that a default registration with a CCA is a stigma, with
potentially serious consequences for the consumer’s credit rating. Yet where
Parliament has decided that a class of consumer should not have to pay a debt of that
kind, and a court has decided (or the parties have recognised) that a particular
consumer is within that class, I consider it very counter-intuitive to think that he can
accurately be stigmatised as a defaulter in a semi-public register without, at least, the
unenforceable nature of the debt being recorded in the same entry. For it is invariably
the creditor’s default in complying with the CCA that has led to the consumer being
regarded by Parliament as not having to pay the debt, and a statutory liberty not to pay
is so central to any continued non-payment that the registration of his non-payment as
a default is generally inaccurate unless accompanied with a reference to that liberty.
43. I recognise that this conclusion may require a re-examination of remediable
unenforceability, because I am by no means sure that the same analysis may not
equally apply. Why should the exempt debtor be labelled a defaulter during any
limited period during which Parliament had decided that he should not have to pay?
But that question is for another day.
44. The outcome of this analysis is that this part of the appeal succeeds. To the limited
extent that Mr Grace is not statute barred, the breach of the DPA constituted by the
default registration did cause the alleged loss, because no other registration of him as
a defaulter under his hire purchase agreement could then have been made, there
having then been no facility for the simultaneous registration of the non-enforceability
of his debt.
The Caravan
45. Here the attack from Mrs George is upon the lawfulness of the judge’s written order
on 21st November for the delivery up of the caravan. This is advanced as the
springboard for an ambitious attempt by Mrs George to obtain the termination of her
2003 hire purchase agreement on terms of a full release of her liability under it, and a
return of all payments made by her to Black Horse under it.
46. The ingenious argument goes like this. (i) The judge should not at the end of the trial
have made the de bene esse oral order for delivery up, because Mrs George was not in
court that day, was not asked, did not consent to it, and had no opportunity to argue
against the making of it. Nor was the effect of the order explained at the time. (ii) In
Judgment Approved by the court for handing down. Grace and anr v Black Horse
any event the purely oral order was not an order of the court within the meaning of
s.90(1) of the CCA. (iii) Black Horse took possession of the caravan, without a
qualifying court order and therefore in breach of s.90, at some time before the handdown
on 21st November. (iv) Therefore, pursuant to the draconian sanction for such a
breach in s.91, the 2003 agreement had by then terminated, and Mrs George had
become entitled to a full refund of all payments made under it, so that the
retrospective written order for delivery up should never have been made, and an order
in terms of s.91made instead. It is submitted for Mrs George that she was unaware of
any of this in time to make any such submission on 21st November.
47. In my judgment every step in this imaginative argument is flawed. As to (i), Mrs
George was represented for all purposes connected with the litigation on the last day
of the trial by her partner Mr Grace, who participated in the discussion about the oral
order for delivery up. His authority was confirmed by Mrs George’s letter to the court,
accompanied by a medical opinion that she had the requisite capacity to litigate by
instructing him. The judge gave him a short but accurate explanation of the effect of
the order as he made it, and he did not object to it in any way.
48. Furthermore, the parties’ pleaded cases were ad idem on the question whether Black
Horse should have possession of the caravan. Mrs George wanted rescission of the
2003 agreement for (among other things) misrepresentation, and Black Horse claimed
delivery up for breach of the same agreement. It would have been competent for the
judge at any stage during the trial to have ordered its return, without prejudice to the
parties’ very different cases about why that should happen. The pleadings disclosed
no undistributed middle ground under which Mrs George could have retained it, and
Miss Urell could not, upon this court’s enquiry, recall any such ground as having
emerged at trial .
49. There was good reason to order delivery up of the caravan prior to judgment, not least
because there was a threat of its removal from the site landlords. s.131 of the CCA
gives the court express power (in addition to the powers under the CPR) to make
orders for the interim protection and custody of relevant property, and the order made
at the end of the trial, pending judgment, was well within those powers. It involved
no adjudication of the underlying dispute, for the reasons already given.
50. (ii) The judge’s oral order was plainly an order of the court within S. 90 of the CCA,
which is entirely unspecific as to form. Of course, in almost all cases the creditor will
want a written order so as to be able to demonstrate the requisite authority to third
parties, such as any relevant landowner. Mr Brennan faintly suggested that an oral
order was unlikely to have been in the contemplation of the draftsman of an Act
otherwise so concerned with accurate documents. In my view the draftsman may
safely be assumed to have been content to allow the court to follow its own rules.
Orders by the court to persons to do or desist from doing things (i.e. injunctions) are
commonly made orally, and take effect from the moment when they are pronounced
by the judge.
51. (iii) If therefore Black Horse did take possession of the caravan pursuant to the oral
order before 21st November (as Miss Urell told the judge, on instructions, that it had)
this was a perfectly legitimate execution of the then oral order. In fact Black Horse
now say (with evidence in support) that it did no such thing, but we need not resolve
that.
52. (iv) The alleged consequences therefore do not follow. It was appropriate for the
judge to make reference in his written order of 21st November to the delivery up, in
the way that he did, having been informed (whether or not correctly) that delivery up
had already been achieved.
53. For those reasons this part of the appeal fails. If my Lords agree, I would allow the
appeal on causation, dismiss it on limitation and in relation to the caravan, and remit
the quantification of that part of Mr Grace’s claim which has not been found to be
statute barred to the Chester County Court, to be determined if possible at the same
time as the adjourned quantification of Black Horse’s claim under the 2003
agreement.
54. This is already a case in which the parties’ effort and expense has been seriously
disproportionate to the amounts at stake. The parties are therefore firmly encouraged
to pursue mediation or some other form of ADR to resolve their remaining
differences.
Lord Justice Beatson
55. I agree.
The Master of the Rolls
56. I also agree.

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BEDROOM TAX – Cotton & Ors, R on the Application of v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions & Ors [2014] EWHC 3437 Admin 22 October 2014

The Housing Benefit Amendment Regulations 2012 have been and remain controversial. They give effect to what the defendant Secretary of State for Work & Pensions calls the removal of the “spare room subsidy” and their opponents call the “bedroom tax”. There have already been several legal challenges to aspects of the Regulations. The present case is concerned with their impact on divorced or separated parents who look after their children under shared care arrangements whereby the children alternate between living with each parent.The 2012 Regulations deal with housing benefit payable to claimants of working age who occupy social sector property. They provide for housing benefit to be paid according to the number of bedrooms to which a claimant is entitled, with entitlement determined according to a formula “the bedroom criteria”. The formula includes a bedroom for a child or in some cases, two children sharing a bedroom who occupies the claimant’s dwelling as their home. However, only the parent who has responsibility for the child is entitled to claim for the child’s bedroom. Only one parent can have such responsibility and, under the Regulations, when the child spends equal time with each parent, that is the parent to whom child benefit is payable.What this means is that any housing benefit payable to the other parent whom I shall describe as having secondary responsibility, although that phrase is not used in the Regulations is assessed on the basis that he it usually is he, although not always is not entitled to the bedroom used by the child which is deemed by the Regulations to be unoccupied. Where there is one such bedroom, the benefit payable to the parent with secondary responsibility is reduced by 14%. Where there are two such bedrooms, the reduction is 25%. Similar bedroom criteria have existed for private sector tenants claiming housing benefit since 1996.The claimants are all parents who are either divorced or separated from the other parent of their children and look after their children under shared care arrangements. They each receive housing benefit. The children alternate between living with each parent, spending approximately half their time with each and having their own bedroom at each premises. In each case the housing benefit payable to the claimants, the parents with secondary responsibility, has been reduced as a result of the Regulations with effect from 1 April 2013, although so far at any rate the shortfall has been made up by the payment of discretionary housing payments “DHPs” from the claimants’ local authorities.The claimants’ case is that the amendments to housing benefit introduced by the 2012 Regulations are unlawful on three grounds, namely that they are:a. a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights;b. a breach of Article 8 of the Convention read with Article 14; andc. irrational

via Cotton & Ors, R on the Application of v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions & Ors [2014] EWHC 3437 Admin 22 October 2014.

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FCA statement regarding Tesco – Financial Conduct Authority

FCA statement regarding Tesco

Published: Today Last Modified : Today

In the light of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) decision to launch an investigation into this matter, and following consultation with the SFO, the Financial Conduct Authority has decided to discontinue its own investigation with immediate effect.

via FCA statement regarding Tesco – Financial Conduct Authority.

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EHIC – European Health Insurance Card – E111

Applying for an EHIC is free of charge via the NHS.

The EHIC is free of charge and you can apply or renew a card via the official EHIC online application form. Beware of unofficial websites, which may charge if you apply through them.

See more advice here

An EHIC will enable you to access state-provided healthcare in European Economic Area (EEA) countries, including Switzerland, at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free. It will cover your treatment until you return to the UK. It also covers treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care, providing the reason for your visit is not specifically to give birth. For more information about what is covered in each country, see our country-by-country guide.

The card is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property. Therefore, it is important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy. Some insurers now insist that you hold an EHIC, and many will waive the excess if you have one.

If you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment, please read our section on seeking medical treatment in Europe.

You can apply through the NHSBSA website here . It is also possible to apply by phoning the automated service on: 0845 606 2030
Another way to apply is to download an application form (PDF, 122kb) and return it to the NHS Business Services Authority, which processes all applications.
NHS Business Services Authority, European Health Insurance Card, EHIC Applications, Sandyford House, Archbold Terrace, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 1BF
The following details will be necessary in order to complete your application:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • National Insurance or NHS number (CHI number in Scotland or Health and Care Number in Northern Ireland)

Please note that temporary National Insurance numbers aren’t valid. Temporary National Insurance numbers uses the prefix ‘TN’, the date of birth and M or F to denote gender (for example TN131160M). These numbers are no longer accepted and cannot be used to apply for your card.

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Thirteen financial horrors to avoid this Halloween – Money Advice Service

They can suck you dry, haunt you for years and scare you senseless. But it’s nothing supernatural, just 13 very real financial horrors that could cost you cash if you don’t change your ways.

Luckily there’s no need for a silver bullet or clove of garlic. Just read our tips below to avoid these money mistakes.

13. Falling for scams

Scammers are smarter than ever before and they attack on all fronts. But be sensible, take precautions and you won’t get stung. Don’t give your personal or financial details out to unsolicited callers or in response to emails, and if something seems too good to be true… You know how it goes.

12. Putting money into savings when you’ve debt to pay off

You’re unlikely to earn more interest on savings, than the interest you have pay on your debts. So, as a rule of thumb it’s usually better to pay off your debts before you start to save.

11. Sticking with your bank

Does your bank pay zero interest on savings? Are you paying a monthly fee for extras you don’t need? If so you’d be better off switching – you might even get a cash bonus for doing it.

10. Not returning things to shops

You’re wasting money if you don’t return purchases you don’t need. Eight in ten shoppers told us it’s “too much hassle” to return unwanted goods. That added up to £107 of goods per shopper left languishing in the bottom of the cupboard.

9. Skipping the terms and conditions

Not reading or understanding the full terms and conditions of financial products could be costing you £428 a year – that’s the average figure according to our survey. They can be boring and dense, but reading them will help ensure you’re getting what you need – and what you can afford. That means checking your insurance covers you, and looking out for dates that special deals end, for example.

8. Getting caught out by household emergencies

Unplanned events and surprise bills can cause havoc with your finances, with our research showing that seven out of ten homes need to pay an average of £1,101 a year. But if you can put away just £3 a day for a year, you’ll have a £1,095 buffer.

7. Getting stuck in an overdraft trap

Our Money Regrets research shows a third of young people use their overdraft as if it was their own money rather than an emergency cushion. The complex and confusing charges mean its harder to get out of an overdraft, bringing more fees and more debt.

6. Not paying bills by Direct Debit

You can often get a discount on your gas, electricity, water, TV, broadband and other bills if you set up a monthly Direct Debit – though they’re not always the cheaper option. You’ll get charged interest if you pay your insurance monthly rather than all upfront.

5. Paying for things you don’t use

Do you use your gym membership? How about that monthly magazine or film streaming subscription? It’s easy to forget about the money that’s coming out of your account each month, but it quickly adds up. If you don’t use it, cancel it.

Plus keep an eye out for auto renewals such an annual home, car or travel insurance policies. You could get a cheaper deal if you shop around.

4. Not switching and fixing energy

If you’ve never switched your energy supplier, you’re probably on a standard tariff, which is usually the most expensive one out there. It’s easy to compare what you’re paying with how much gas and electricity would cost you at a different company. Fixing it can save some households around £200.

3. Wasting money on extended warranties

When you buy white goods or similar products, they’ll all come with a manufacturer’s warranty. After that runs out, if you have issues because your TV, fridge or so on is faulty you are covered by the Sale of Goods Act 1979 that says products should last a reasonable time. So there’s rarely any need for an expensive extended warranty when you buy.

2. Failing to add up the total costs

Money Advice Service research showed 55% of homebuyers fail to account for additional costs such as moving fees and maintenance. It’s not just property where the extras all add up – buying a car or holiday are just a couple of other examples where there’s often more to pay.

1. Relying on payday loans

If you’re struggling with money it might seem the only way to get to the end of the month is a payday loan. They can lead to more serious debt problems if you’re unable to meet your financial commitments, so use our tool first to check that there aren’t alternatives. It’ll also show you where you can find free, impartial advice to get your finances back on track.

via Thirteen financial horrors to avoid this Halloween – Money Advice Service.