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Civil Recovery Firm lashes out at Consumer Forums after Court defeat

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  • Civil Recovery Firm lashes out at Consumer Forums after Court defeat

    Civil Recovery Firm lashes out at Consumer Forums after Court defeat


    In common with other consumer groups we have become increasingly concerned with the growing number of people seeking help and advice regarding civil demands for money sent by civil recovery companies representing major high street retail stores following instances of petty theft or alleged petty theft.


    As with any other responsible consumer group we do not condone theft of any kind - least of all because the practice inevitably drives up the cost of goods for all consumers. However the lawfulness of these demands is, as yet, unclear. We and others believe that many of these demands are at best questionable and at worst unlawful. Some have described this industry as a ''parallel justice system'' or ''speculative invoicing''.


    In May of this year, along with other consumer groups, we reported on the case of A retailer v Ms B & Ms K at Oxford County Court which is, to our knowledge, one of the first examples of these demands to be contested in court. Although the transcripts of the judgment are yet to be made available we know that HHJ Charles Harris dismissed the case in its entirety and found for the defendants. As it was a County Court case the judgment is not binding, however the general feeling amongst consumer groups is that it does not bode well for the civil recovery industry.


    You can read the case summary here - Bates, Wells & Braithwaite



    Earlier this month we received a letter from privacy lawyers, Schillings, on behalf of their clients Retail Loss Prevention Ltd (RLP), which we can only describe as purposely designed to be threatening and intimidating. It makes numerous accusations against us and some of our members including a ''vindictive campaign of harassment'' and ''defamation'' as well as making demands of us to supply the personal information of some of our members who posted comments which Schillings deemed less than flattering of their client.


    We are now aware that Legal Beagles are not the only group in this position. Several other consumer groups have also received similar letters as well as the Citizens Advice Bureau (who published a scathing report on the industry last year - Uncivil Recovery), one of CAB's employees, The Justice Gap, and the solicitors acting for the defendants in the case linked above.


    The common denominator of the recipients of the letters appears to be the reporting of RLP's lost court case and we believe that through Schillings, RLP are intent on stifling as much publicity on the adverse judgment as possible.


    After careful consideration we have decided to publish the letter which you can read in full below. We have not done this out of some sense of bohemian bravado or for our own amusement but to lay bare an issue that we think people should know about and we leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions. Mr Dunstan is aware of, and supports our decision to publish.


    In openly publishing the letter and the story behind it our approach is unashamedly in stark contrast to Schillings, a firm whose website proudly boasts that 'we prefer to negotiate solutions out of the spotlight'.



    View the full letter (PDF)

    View our Civil Recovery forum for more information.


    Read the Oxford CC case Judgment http://www.legalbeagles.info/ApprovedJudgment.pdf

    And the Appeal - http://www.legalbeagles.info/ARetailervMsB09052012.pdf

    With huge thanks to the ConsumerActionGroup for obtaining the transcripts.


    --- You can view Legal Beagles response to Schillings Letter here and below -----

    Dear Sirs

    Legal Beagles
    We act for Legal Beagles and refer to your letters addressed to our client of 7 June 2012 and 20 June 2012.
    The nature of any internet forum is to display the personal views of individuals for the consumption of others and our client's forum was created for this purpose. It is denied that the posts made by our client's members on their website amount to a ''vindictive campaign'' against your client. So far as we can derive, they are merely expressing their honestly held views.

    Our client will not remove any further posts or content from its website unless it breaches its own online website policy. Further, our client will not be blocking the profiles of any users of its website and will not disclose the IP addresses and any/or other personal information of the users complained of. Such information would only be disclosed if ordered to do so by the court.

    Turning to your letter.

    1. Richard Dunstan
    2. The thrust of your letter largely relates to a grievance against a Mr Richard Dunstan. We are at a loss to understand why your client's complaints against Mr Dunstan are directed at our client who was not a member of, nor had he ever posted any comment on our client's website. However, it was only after receipt of your letter of 7 June 2012, Mr Dunstan became a member of our client's website. Mr Dunstan's name appears no less than 10 times in your letter yet you fail to explain how he is connected to our client at a time when he was not a member nor had posted.
    3. We are unclear as to how Mr Dunstan can be the ''ring-leader'' of an ''orchestrated campaign'' which you allege our client has made against your client given that he has no involvement whatsoever with Legal Beagles and has never featured on their website, we would enquire whether this could be because this is a widely made allegation on behalf of your client but not founded in fact or in evidence?
    4. We view the inclusion of your client's complaint against Mr Dunstan in your letter as a weak attempt to increase the alleged liability of our client by including a wholly unconnected claim. For the reasons set out above, our client is not in a position to provide information about Mr Dunstan or indeed ''restrain'' him as requested in your letter. We will not further address specific points raised in your letter in relation to Mr Dunstan given that he is not our client, has no involvement with our client and therefore it would be inappropriate for us to do so.
    5. Harassment
    6. The posts complained of reference Retail Loss Prevention Ltd. A limited company cannot make a claim under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. The discussions on our client's website do not constitute conduct towards any identifiable individual which engages the provisions of that Act.
    7. In any event, harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 has been defined by the Court of Appeal in the following terms:



    "To harass as defined in the Concise Oxford Dictionary, Tenth Edition, is to "torment by subjecting to constant interference or intimidation. The conduct must be unacceptable to a degree which would sustain criminal liability and also must be oppressive."
    Per Pill LJ, and Bennett and Field JJs in R v Curtis [2010] EWCA Crim 123, at Paragraph 29. That is an awfully high bar that your client cannot surmount.
    1. The relevant postings on our client's public forum may relate to your client, but they have not been sent directly to your client and therefore cannot amount to constant interference or intimidation of them and could not amount to oppressive and unlawful conduct. It is our view that the postings on our client's forum constitute an expression of opinion relating to your client's conduct. We need not remind you that freedom of expression is protected by the Human Rights Act 1998 and under Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
    2. Your client's allegations that these forum posts on our client's website amount to a criminal offence shows a lack of understanding of the criminal law. We refer you to the Crown Prosecution Service guidance on Harassment, which can be found at the following link:

    http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/s...rassment/#a02a.
    1. It is of course a most serious matter to make unfounded allegations of criminality and is itself defamatory. We are surprised that, despite your client's allegation that ''for the past three years'' their client has been the ''victim of a sustained campaign of harassment and defamation...", your client has only now decided to bring this matter to our client's attention. We note that the timing of your letter coincides with the recent publication of a case summary by Bates Wells & Braithwaite on that firms website which outlines concerns about your client's business in light of their recent unsuccessful civil recovery claim (A Retailer v Ms B & Ms K (Oxford County Court, 9 May 2012)).
    2. You wrote a further letter to our client on 20 June 2012 and stated that you were ''disappointed to note that you have chosen not to remove the content complained of in our previous letter...''. To be clear, as part of our client's website policy, where there is any dispute relating to content the entire thread complained of is removed immediately from publication. We confirm that our client followed this procedure on receipt of your letter dated 7 June 2012. Our client is genuinely astonished that in your letter of 20 June 2012 you claim that our client has ''chosen'' not to remove it. This is clearly untrue.
    3. Defamation

    In your letter, you state that "Posters" using our client's forum make a number of inaccurate and defamatory allegations and go on to list 7 such allegations. You do not, however, provide the statements from which you derive these allegations. We fail to understand how our client could be expected to understand the meanings you attribute to the postings on their forum if our client is not provided with the alleged defamatory statements. Our client is happy to allow you to post responses to any inaccuracies and it would certainly add to the debate.
    1. Publication

    You have inappropriately labelled your letter of 7 June 2012 that it is not for publication, when in fact your complaint is about publication. By publishing the contents of your letter of 7 June 2012, our client is permitting the public see what you would like to censor just as intended in Loutchansky v Times Newspapers [2001] EWCA Civ 1805.
    The intimidatory nature of your letter mirrors the conduct of your client. Further, your correspondence only serves to strengthen our client's resolve in continuing to help the victims of your client's business activities and to report on, discuss and expose their unsavoury tactics as our client sees fit.

    We dispute the veracity of the statements made in your letter. We do not accept that this is harassment, nor do we see this as a campaign. We see this is as public information and we are happy to let you put your side to us within 7 days of the date of this letter.

    Yours faithfully



    Finers Stephens Innocent LLP

    Last edited by EXC; 23rd July 2014, 06:55:AM. Reason: broken link
    Tags: None

  • #2
    Re: Civil Recovery Firm lashes out at Consumer Forums after Court defeat

    what is the damaging and harassing material they are talking about that they require you to remove

    this has been to trial in a county court and has been proved correct that RLP is acting in an UNLAWFUL enterprise

    a district judge has decided this and passed judgement

    are the solicitors now saying that the judge is defaming in his judgement as well

    legal beagles along with other forums are only printing the facts which are a matter of public record

    so by what right has a firm of solicitors got in sending such a defamatory and bullying letter to the addmin of legal beagles

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Civil Recovery Firm lashes out at Consumer Forums after Court defeat

      What a load of Bol u know what if they dont like negative publicity dont act in a way that is seen by many as threatning intimidating and as the judge says literally has no place in law i notice that the letter was not signed by an individual Would be interesting to see what effect the judgement has on this companies income if the retailers feel they have suffered a lose as a result of someones actions they should pursue the matter through the criminal justice system which is open and tried and tested i in no way condone theft or shoplifting but there are appropiate systems in place to bring those suspected and charged to account and pay the penalty for their actions.Forums like this are out there to inform and educate people and to bring to the masses the right or wrong actions of all of us from the individual to the large corporations carry on doing the good work

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Civil Recovery Firm lashes out at Consumer Forums after Court defeat

        Good for you and thanks for publishing. There tactics will only make things worse for them.

        QCK

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Civil Recovery Firm lashes out at Consumer Forums after Court defeat

          How to make yourselves look guilty as hell in 3 easy steps...

          Step 1: Check out consumer forums to see what is being said about your trading practises.

          Step 2: Employ a Solicitor

          Step 3: Threaten said forum with legal action!


          Whatever happened to Freedom of Speech? and forgive me if I'm wrong but isn't defamation when its lies?
          so saying RPLs are a rip off (being true and court proven as true) is not a lie.. so how can we be sued for defamation for telling the truth?!

          Keep up the good work Beagles!!!
          sigpic

          Past The Rainbow, North of the North Star

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Civil Recovery Firm lashes out at Consumer Forums after Court defeat

            I think some of the posters on that particular thread may feel a little "left out " after not being included in the list.
            If i was one of them i would be more than pleased for the author of the letter to have my details.

            I do think however that some comments are unwise, accusations of fraud and criminal acts in particular.

            They are after all entitled to try to pursue damages, or anything else they feel like in a civil court.

            The fact that their interpretation of the law is incorrect and the actions taken against people is unfounded is a matter to be decided in the civil courts. They have a perfect right to make these claims, just as we have a perfect right to refute them.(as the law stands at the moment)


            D

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Civil Recovery Firm lashes out at Consumer Forums after Court defeat

              The particular comments pointed out were removed as soon as Admin saw them. The reporting of the case has not, and will not be removed. That is, really, the only part of the letter specifically addressed to this forum. The rest appears to be purely an attempt to besmirch Richard Dunstan (who, at the time of receipt of the letter was not, and never had been, a member of this site) and the CAB, and we know the letter is virtually the same as the one's received by others at the same time.


              http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk...-allegations.& is CAG's forum on Civil Recovery - there is a lot more information and cases on there.
              Last edited by Amethyst; 26th June 2012, 13:15:PM.
              Common Sense .... if in doubt, use it !

              “We may not win by protesting, but if we don’t protest we will lose. If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win.” Hetty Bower

              Any support I provide is offered without liability, if you are unsure please seek professional legal guidance.

              If we have helped you we'd appreciate it if you can leave a review on our Trust Pilot page

              Find Solicitors offering fixed fees on our sister site - JustBeagle.com

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Civil Recovery Firm lashes out at Consumer Forums after Court defeat

                Firstly huge recognition to the Site Admin team for taking the decision to publish this letter. It couldn't have been an easy decision to make, and as a member of this site I have increased confidence on the site admin team to not 'sell out' its members and back down on the basis of a solicitors letter, which, in my IMO has very little merit.

                From my perspective this also demonstrates a couple of things:

                1) That consumer forums such as this one must be having a massive impact on the operations of companies such as RLP, otherwise why feel the need to send such letters threatening legal action, not just against forums, but its individual members

                2) That the advice being given on these forums MUST be sound, otherwise the recent court case reported on this website would not have gone in the favour of the defendants

                3) That as consumers we must stay aware that our forums are read by the same people we are campaigning against

                Again, a big thank you to the site team for bringing this to everyones attention, and I look forward to the next report on a court case involving RLP (and any other civil recovery company of course)

                Best
                Crispy

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Civil Recovery Firm lashes out at Consumer Forums after Court defeat

                  Originally posted by Amethyst View Post
                  The particular comments pointed out were removed as soon as Admin saw them. The reporting of the case has not, and will not be removed. That is, really, the only part of the letter specifically addressed to this forum. The rest appears to be purely an attempt to besmirch Richard Dunstan (who, at the time of receipt of the letter was not, and never had been, a member of this site) and the CAB, and we know the letter is virtually the same as the one's received by others at the same time.
                  If the reported posts have been removed why did they write to you to ask for their removal?
                  Have they accepted that the removal of such posts is sufficient for their wants and needs(for use of better words)?
                  "Family means that no one gets forgotten or left behind"
                  (quote from David Ogden Stiers)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Civil Recovery Firm lashes out at Consumer Forums after Court defeat

                    the triangle at the bottom of the post is for reporting a post with regards to what someone has written. In the good old days, and on another forum, I averaged about 6 posts per hour reporting them so feel free to do the same on posts. I still report posts on here if I think there is a line that has been crossed and I am sure others do. Ultimately it is for Admin to decide whether they are or are not considered to be libellous or otherwise......go on, hit the triangle cos it has stopped sending electric shocks back to you anymore
                    "Family means that no one gets forgotten or left behind"
                    (quote from David Ogden Stiers)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Civil Recovery Firm lashes out at Consumer Forums after Court defeat

                      The unfortunate thing is that the retail trade blotted its copybook with the powers that be by clogging the Criminal Justice system with cases involving small sums of money. In one case, a Circuit Judge, sitting in the Crown Court, blasted the CPS for pursuing a case of shoplifting involving an item worth just 65 pence. The average cost of prosecuting someone in the Magistrates Court is around the 2,000 mark per case. In the Crown Court, it is a lot more. Those costs are met, invariably, by the taxpayer. If the retail trade was made to pay the full costs of a Magistrates' Court or Crown Court trial, they would soon realise cases involving small amounts are just not viable. Investing their time and resources into tackling retail theft committed by organised gangs and drug addicts, which makes up 90% of shoplifting incidents, would reduce their losses considerably.
                      Life is a journey on which we all travel, sometimes together, but never alone.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Civil Recovery Firm lashes out at Consumer Forums after Court defeat

                        Formal response to Schillings - http://www.legalbeagles.info/Letter%...2026_06_12.pdf
                        Common Sense .... if in doubt, use it !

                        “We may not win by protesting, but if we don’t protest we will lose. If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win.” Hetty Bower

                        Any support I provide is offered without liability, if you are unsure please seek professional legal guidance.

                        If we have helped you we'd appreciate it if you can leave a review on our Trust Pilot page

                        Find Solicitors offering fixed fees on our sister site - JustBeagle.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Civil Recovery Firm lashes out at Consumer Forums after Court defeat

                          very nicely put.....will be interesting should they wish to respond....
                          "Family means that no one gets forgotten or left behind"
                          (quote from David Ogden Stiers)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Civil Recovery Firm lashes out at Consumer Forums after Court defeat

                            I think RLP are rather feeling a little 'under the weather'. They know the writing is on the wall, but are of the mistaken belief that sending out stern letters will stifle LEGITIMATE and HONEST debate.

                            Its quite simple, I as with others have made posts in the honest belief that they are correct. Legal Beagles are not held to account for that.

                            Suck it up RLP, the writing is on the wall, your days are numbered.

                            I think the old saying goes like this: "RLP have to be lucky with every court case, we only have to be lucky once and its game over to RLP".

                            Should RLP ever make the mistake of going to court again, much like Parking Charge Notices, they will lose, and if they ever try their luck at Crown Court should it ever go that far, when they lose there, they lose permanently because it then sets a precedent.

                            Shame that eh?

                            Just so that we're clear, these are my honestly held beliefs.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Civil Recovery Firm lashes out at Consumer Forums after Court defeat

                              Brilliant if the purpose of their letters was to suppress debate and discussion it failed Im thinking they expect LB to get on their knees and beg for mercy the bullying of anyone by any orginisation beit a company or anyone in the proffessions must always be fought or we end up with big brother ruling us the freedoms we enjoy have been fought for by many before same as Leclerc i eagerley await the reply

                              Comment

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