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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 32177
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I am having an argument with my local library. I have used

Customer Question

I am having an argument with my local library. I have used for may years the online reminder system to renew my books online without problem until Nov. Theyre system failed to send the reiminder email and as a reslt I did not renew my books online. (I was actually ill with whooping cough at the time otherwise I may have noticed in any event but thats not really relevant). A few weeks later and over £10 worth of fines later they send an overdue books reminder. Immediately I was able I visited the library (the day after ) and explained. They said I should nt rely on the emails and that I should pay the fine or have my card suspended. I paid the one day I felt I should pay - ie from when I realised, and refused to pay the rest, despite them saying they would half them. They suspended my ticket.
I then complained that I didn't think it lawful they could remove my library use on thegrounds that we have a disagreement about the overdue charges. I am happy to contest that should they decide to persue them as a debt. I have had a response from the Head of Libraries to the effect that'I do not consider the action (of removing the card) to be unlawful' and that she considers the matter closed.
To me the matter is very much not closed. I am a fully paid up council tax payer but if I wasn't my bins would still be collected! I do not seem to be able to explain the similarity to the library service whom I feel are behaving as judge , jury and appeal court in this matter - all of which has been brought about by their failure, as well as my own, for which they seem to be able to accept no responsibility.

Are they right ? ie can they in law withold my ticket because there are overdue fees about which we disagree as to the reason for them arising.

I would be very grateful for a lawyers informed response please?
Incidentally, my reason for questioning the lawfulness is because for many years as a Civil Servant myself one was never able to offset money due to an individual against a disputed debt - the two matters had always to be kept separate.

Many thanks, Sue
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  James Mather replied 5 years ago.
Can you just clarify if they offered to reduce the fine by half?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes - when I went to the library and paid the one days fine I felt I owed, they did offer to reduce the rest by half.


Because I felt the fines hadn't been fairly applied , because I felt it was the fault of their reiminder system failure inthe first place, I refused.



Expert:  James Mather replied 5 years ago.
So how much are the fines and how much have you paid?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Why is this relevant?


The total due was £13.70 and I paid 75p for the day as explained, leaving £12.95

Expert:  James Mather replied 5 years ago.

Because if a complaint doesnt work and complaint to the Local Governement Ombudsman doesnt work, Judicial review will costs probably £5000 if you lose.

It appears to be the principle of it tha\t concerns you

You have paid more for this question than the dispute is over.

The first thing any law student learns is never go to court on a priniciple unless you have money to waste.

I am not prepared to continue on that basis as I have other users with problems who I have to deal with and have limited time. Opting out for another expert who might want to deal with this for you.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

OK thanks - obviously as you haven't given an answer and my deposit is just that , thats fine, I'll request it back.


Thanks for considering answering anyway, Sue