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Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33307
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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Hi there - hope you can - I split up from my ex 5.5 years ago

Customer Question

Hi there - hope you can - I split up from my ex 5.5 years ago - she got the water bill at our previously shared house changed to her name.

It now transpires the water company kept a file active under my name while also billing her, including in her case all owing when we split up (amongst many other account issues). They ended up getting a ccj issued in my name in late 2011 without either my or my ex's knowledge. The first I found out about it was July this year (2013) when I had a letter through my door at my current address from a high- court bailiff demanding payment. I rang the bailiff who explained that the water company had been chasing me, got the ccj issued etc and the debt, plus admin costs and County Court and High Court fees needed to be paid immediately.

I did this, my ex gave me the money back (c£1,500) and rang the water company to complain. They lodged the complaint but did not move quickly on it.

I have been on a career break since Aug 2012. In Oct 2013 I applied for a job back at my old company, which is a financial services firm. I explained about the active CCJ and the ongoing dispute when I applied, as they have to run pre-interview credit checks. I did not get an interview, and my old company confirmed it was due to me failing the credit check. I have proof from the 3 main credit bureaux that the ccj is the only thing on my file a potential employer would see that could count against me.

My ex rang the water company back who put her through to their legal services team. They admitted over the phone that it was "a Pandora's box", that we should leave it to them to get the ccj set aside but they would still need a timeline letter from us explaining what had gone on. I am still waiting for council tax proof showing I have not lived at the old address since me and my ex split up. In the meantime my ex has lent me £5,000 for living costs.

The water company have now said they do no not need the timeline letter and are proceeding with getting the ccj set aside. They have sent me a firm for me to sign to go to the county court, saying the ccj should be set aside as I was not liable for the debt. If I sign this form as is am I giving up my right to take further legal action? Also, from a damages point if view, between me and my ex I make it the bailiff payment, the loan for my living costs, loss of potential earnings as I cannot get work currently in the only field I have worked in as all financial services firms require pre interview credit checks, damage to my professional reputation at my old employer and more general stress and distress to me and my ex, have I missed anything?

Many thanks in advance!
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
May I ask why you have taken no action before now to have this Judgement set aside?
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi - just to confirm, even though the judgement was issued in 2011, the first I or my ex knew about it was July 2013 when I had a bailiff letter through my door - no letters regarding this matter were ever received by me or my ex - I just wish to point out I have been on the electoral register the entire time since I split with my ex, have had credit products, other utilities bills and at one point had a bill with the same water company in a flat I lived in on my own.


 


When we found out about the judgement, after paying the bailiff, my ex complained to the water company: she also had ongoing complaints with them about other account issues.


 


They insisted I was liable for the amount they had chased me for: as such not only were they not willing to contact the court to get the CCJ removed (as they were saying it was right that it had been issued), they would not, without a formal complaint being lodged, investigate / double-check their reasoning.


 


From the independent research that I did, I thought that all I could do on my own was get a Notice of Correction added to my credit file, which from my understanding is little more than a hearsay explanation by me as to what I said had actually happened: it does not count as proof that the CCJ should not have been issued. I thought the only way to get the judgement set aside was for the water company to admit it should never have been issued in the first place. This formed the body of the complaint my ex made. Also, from what I understood from my research, I had to exhaust the official complaint route with the water company before taking any further action, whether regulatory or legal.


 


My ex was given the runaround and passed from pillar to post every time she made contact to try and follow up her complaint. This went on for months, and fitted the pattern of behaviour she had experienced previously with the water company.


 


When I found out about the situation re: my job application, my ex contacted the water company as soon as she could - when she explained the severity of what had now occurred, she was passed almost straightaway through to someone on the water company's legal services team, who was the first person (it would seem) to actually look at the case in the round. This is the person who said it was "a pandora's box" (he also said that he "had never seen one like this before" & "it gets worse the more you look at it").


 


He told my ex, when she asked if she should contact the court to get the CCJ transferred to her name / get it set aside, that no, we should now leave it to the water company given the severity of what had occurred and that it was now on them to get the CCJ revoked as it should not have been issued in the first place: at this point, he still however asked for a timeline letter from us.


 


Whilst I was waiting for the necessary proof from my local council re: council tax payments which would help show I had not been at the previous address since my and my ex split, the water company independently contacted us to say they were progressing anyway with getting the CCJ set aside. I can only assume they had looked at the case further in the meantime.


 


Please do let me know if you need any further information.


 


Many thanks in advance,


 


Paul

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
You are fully entitled to apply to have the Judgement set aside on the basis that
1. You were not properly served with the paperwork and
2. You were not liable for the debt.
If the Company are willing to Consent to the application then it should go through quickly and the matter should be settled and removed form your file without particular delay.
I am not clear whether or not this money was in fact propery due from your ex.
If it was then there is no claim that can be made - if it was not then you can insisit on the return of the money - together with the costs of the application - but nothing further
Please ask if you need further details
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi - many thanks for your answer - the company are in fact the party lodging the application to set aside the CCJ - they have admitted they should never have gone for it in the first place so, as you say, I would hope it should get removed from my file quickly.


 


To confirm one of your points, the money was definitely not due from my ex - the water company have confirmed that they transferred anything and everything owing by me to my ex's name when she got the account details changed (it's just that they did not remove money's owing from the account in my name and also did not shut that account down). They have also confirmed she has totally paid up anything that was owing on the account in her name. From what you said this means we should be able to insist on return of that money.


 


I just want to clarify about the "nothing further" aspect - admittedly I have sought advice now as I am not legally trained - I thought that as I cannot currently even get interviews for jobs in the field where I have all of my experience, and in fact as a vast number of jobs require pre-interview credit checks now I cannot get interviews in most fields - this is not because of anything I have done, it is the fault of the water company - I would have thought this would count as a quantifiable and real damage that they have done to me, because of their mistakes, which would mean I could, if desired, pursue them (obviously with no guarantee of success) for legal redress?


 


Thanks in advance,


 


Paul

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
You can certainly insist on the return of the funds
Your problem in doing anything else is that you could and should have applied to have the Judgement set aside as soon as you became aware of it - you had clear grounds to do so
From what you have said if you had done so then there would have been no problem when you decided to go back into the workplace.
In addition it is unlikely that your employment will be seen as a "reasonable foreseeable consequence" of their action
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi - many thanks for your response - appreciate the detail and speed of service so will give a good rating - on a personal level I'm a bit confused, how was I to know I could have or should have got the judgement set aside when I became aware of it when all the guidance, from both the company itself and the regulator is that I, or any other consumer, have to exhaust all avenues with the company before taking regulatory / legal action? Also, the fact that I would have had to go to court myself to get the judgement set aside without the company having admitted at that point they were in the wrong? It feels to me, and I appreciate I'm not exactly objective in this situation, that I and my ex have lost out, not only for the company's mistake, but also for following the procedures we as consumers get told we have to in order to try and get the situation resolved? If that's how the land lies on this then fair enough, I'm asking from a position of legal naivety.


 


Thanks in advance,


 


Paul

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
There are two different issues here.
You had a court judgement against you without having had the chance to argue the matter in court so for most people that is where they would start
This is separate from the issue of pursuing a complaint against the firm for the way that they dealt with it which might also end up eventually in court action.
CLARE
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 33307
Experience: I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
Clare and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi - ah right, I can see where you're coming from - at the time I thought the only way to prove my "innocence" was to get the water company to admit they were wrong then go to the court on that basis - it didn't even cross my mind that fighting it on the basis of not being served with papers was an option - my experience with companies like this is that unless they admit fault when a court's involved they'll always find a way to wriggle off any technicality based defence (which might seem cynical but that's my experience) - appreciate what you've said and your advice though, thank you very much!


 


All the best,


 


Paul

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
You are most welcome - I hope all goes well
Clare

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