Unusual repossession shortfall case

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Three or four years ago I let Abbey National repossess my flat in London. Abbey sold the flat at a reasonable price (at that time) and informed my of my debt (22,000). I wrote to them in October 1997 and said that I was willing to pay 50 a month until the debt was cleared but I would like to start paying in six months time. Abbey agreed to this (I have the letter) and said that they would contact me again. I got myself a new job with a larger salary and waited for them to get back to me. They didn't. After a year or so of not being contacted I made the natural and logical assumption that the debt had been written off. And with this in mind, my wife and I renovated our flat (in Stockholm where we live) and decided to start a family. Then, back in June this year, a law company acting for Abbey contacted me and said that I am still liable for the debt.

I do not want to offer Abbey National anything this time for the following reasons: 1) Abbey had its chance to recover the debt and missed it. I made an offer in good faith three years ago and Abbey failed to capitalise on it because of its own mismanagment. 2) Abbey has mucked me around. In other words, I changed my life firstly three years ago so that I could earn more money and secondly two years ago based on the assumption that the debt had been written off. I am not willing to change my circumstances again to accommodaate Abbey National. 3) I was in a position to repay the debt three years ago - today I am not.

In short I believe that Abbey National has behaved unethically. I believe that the company should take responsibility for the internal bumblings and write off my debt.

I am currently arguing this case with EVERSHEDS who are representing Abbey National. EVERSHEDS, of course, just quote me the law which states that I am liable.

Have I got a case? Any pointers, advice, help would be useful.

Regards Gary Niemen

-- Gary Niemen (gniemen@viewlocity.com), November 20, 2000

Answers

Hi Gary,

Perhaps there may be something in the thread called 'Estoppel', a little bit further up the list (i.e. more recent) which might be food for thought in your particular case? It seems to be an issue in your case that you changed your life on the understanding that any legal liabilities which you might have had in the past were in fact discharged (ie you thought they had written the debt off.)

The question is, was it reasonable to suppose that a debt had been written off when the promised contact never came?

Have they offered you any kind of settlement? If so, this might indicate that the company had in fact, to all intents and purposes, written the debt off long ago. On these pages we see many occasions where lenders, who have essentially written off shortfall debts, seem to be just trying it on with vulnerable people up to 12 years after repossession.

Let me know what you think?

Bear in mind, these are my own personal thoughts. I am not qualified to give legal or financial advice.

Good luck.

-- Eleanor Scott (eleanor.scott@btinternet.com), November 24, 2000.


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