PRA Group Claim Dismissed by Judge at Preliminary Hearing (by Colin Quinn)
Today I represented a consumer at a preliminary hearing, in respect of his defence to a claim issued by PRA Group (UK) Limited. The claimant was suing the defendant for money it alleged was outstanding, in respect of an alleged credit agreement regulated by the Consumer Credit Act 1974. The claimant said it was able to bring a claim against the defendant as all rights and duties in respect of the alleged credit agreement had been assigned/sold to it, by Barclays Bank UK PLC.
Although Barclays Bank UK PLC hadn’t actually been incorporated as a company in 2012, being the year the claimant alleged it entered into a credit agreement with the defendant, the claimant was relying on what was, on the face of it, incomplete terms and conditions which the claimant said was a copy of the alleged credit agreement.
At the hearing the claimant’s appointed advocate invited the court to strike out the defendant’s defence and to enter judgment in the claimant’s favour.
Unfortunately, the court had not received the defendant’s witness statement or any of the evidence the defendant had in support of his case. However, when I addressed the court on the fact the claimant was inviting the court to enter judgment against a consumer, in respect of regulated credit agreement which hadn’t been disclosed, and that the claimant was barred from entering judgment against a consumer whilst in breach of a Section 78/CCA request, the court ultimately dismissed the claimant’s claim and rejected the claimant’s request for more time, which it was said may or may not allow the claimant to adduce evidence.
It was only after my initial submissions to the court that the claimant’s request for judgment fell away, which is unsurprising when the claimant’s advocate then made the admission that the claimant had been informed by Barclays, that no copy of a credit agreement could be provided. The judge, in giving judgment, agreed with my submissions that the debt was unenforceable and that the claimant should have had a copy of an agreement before it decided to issue a claim, as it would otherwise not know if the alleged agreement upon which it sued, was in fact enforceable. The court found it could dismiss the claim at a preliminary hearing as the claimant’s case stood no prospect of success and there was no need for a trial. This avoided the defendant having to pay costs of proceeding to, and having to attend court and give evidence at, a trial.
It is important to note the defendant had not instructed Joanna Connolly Solicitors until late in proceedings and after the claim had been allocated for a trial to be listed for hearing. The claimant had sent the defendant a copy of the incomplete document, which it claimed was an enforceable credit agreement. It follows that, although debt purchasing claimant’s may disclose to a consumer a document which it says is a credit agreement, it may not always be the case that such a document is an agreement which is enforceable and which resolves a creditors statutory obligation to comply with a Section 77/78 of the Consumer Credit Act 1977. Even though the claimant may say it is.