Urgent Advice needed - Britannia BS / Hammond Suddards & Edge

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URGENT!! I have had a letter from the solicitors acting for Britannia BS threatening bankruptcy re a mortgage shortfall debt (approx 32k).

The first letter I received from them was in July 2000. I received some more after thsi date but choose to ignore them. Then the wrote to me and threatend bankruptcy! I to responded in 2 ways:

1. I wrote back to the solicitors pointing out that they were outside the six year limit citing Hopkinson v Tupper case. Also I indicated that all members of the CML had agreed not to pursue cases over 6 years. Their response was that no precedent was set in the Hopkinson case and so the 12 year limitation period still applies. And, that they fisrt try to contact me (at a different address) in Feb 1998 and the CML ruling applied from Feb 2000, so that they are obliged to recover the shorthfall debt! They have also offerd to write-off 27k and would accept 5k in settlement - but I must do it within 28 days.

2.The second way in which I responded was to write a letter of complaint to the Chief Executive, Mr Bernstein, of Britannia BS expressing my disgust at the way their solicitors are acting and sending out threatening letters.I also pointed out that Brittannia BS was violating the European Convention on Human Rights!

Suffice it to say I never got a reply back from the Chief Exec. I did not even get a reply from the Society itself. The letter had been passed back to the solicitors to handle! The building society handed a letter of complaint about their solicitors back to thier solictiors to deal with - can you believe it! I got the solicitors reply this week in which they say I have not responed to many letters they have sent and that they have tried to contact me since Feb 1998 (this was at an address which I moved out from some 10 years ago!!). They go on to say "You [I] have had ample opportunity to making proposals for payment but have failed to do so and our client is perfectly justified in regarding this as evidence of your [my] insolvency". They conclude the letter by "This matter is not closed and this debt will be pursued until either a Judgement is secured, a bankruptcy Order obtained or I make satisfactory proposals for repymant of the debt by 12 October 2001". The tone of their letter suggests that they are not happy about a letter of complaint being sent to the Chief Exec of their client!!

FACTS -The house was sold in June 1991 -I volunterred the keys of the house -I left a forwarding address with local building soc manager. -I was told by manager that this will be the last I hear of the matter -The first letter I received at my current address - July 2000 -They claim their first letter to me was sent Feb 1998. -Shortfall 32k -They will settle for 5k

PLEASE ADVICE ME IF: - Has anyone had experience of Brittannia BS and/or Hammond Suddards solicitors? - What is the likely action they take under these circumstances? - What are my options? - What is my best course of action? - Am I making things worse for myself by complaining? - Should I make a complaint to the CML/Law society? - Any other useful advice

I am worried about this an would appreciate help and advice urgently, from people who have been through this.

thanks Peter

-- Peter Patel (projectxb2b@aol.com), October 04, 2001

Answers

The six year rule came into effect on feb 11th 2000 so I in my opinion they are time barred.Unfortunately the lenders say that simply sending a letter to an address is making contact.As far as I know and this is from the CAB, contact is made when you aknowledge and know the debt exists e.g they send a letter to your correct address or speak to you on the phone.It seems to me that lenders don't want to go to court when the time limit is in question as it may set a precedence. Thats why in my opinion they are threatening you with Bancrupcy and offering to settle for 5k. They are trying it on in other words. Have they got a money judgement order? If they do pettition for bancrupcy which i doubt you can get it setaside and fight it in the courts.I really would'nt worry I believe you have a strong case against them and they know it but they are trying to pressure you.hope this helps.

-- boyz (boyz.co@virgin.net), October 04, 2001.

I agree with the other answer. You seem to be doing very well and there can be no halm in making complaints to those you have suggested.

My position is the same in that they say sending a letter to an address where I did not live means they have made contact. I asked for, and got, copies of these letters. There were 9 in all and as far as I am aware they were all returned to sender so why I wonder did they continue to write? These companies cannot simply make threats and say that they have sent a letter so that is fine - proof of posting is NOT proof of receipt. It is up to them to prove that they made 'contact' by way of the original letters. As long as you can prove you did not live there then there should be no problem. Can you get a letter signbed by the person who does live there to dsay they returned the letters?

Anyway - onto another thing. If you look at the posting just down the page about the Guardian and the 6 year rule I feel your case is ideal as it backs up those already going forward and, in my opinion, proves that this situation is very common indeed.

Have a think and let me know what you think - or mail Elaeanor directly.

-- Matt (mattyc@ntlworld.com), October 04, 2001.


As the lender or his agent (Hammond Suddards Edge HSE) has not been able to make contact with you until recently, then the six year rule agreed with the Council of Mortgage Lenders applies. I doesnt matter that HSE wrote in 1998, as long as you didnt acknowledge the debt, then the six year rule applies. HSE are just trying to frighten you, I would advise you to call their bluff as they are just using bullying tactics. If they do take Court action, then go to your local CAB and ask to be referred to their Debt Adviser you will represent you. Also request your SARN from HSE as detailed on this web site under repossession. However, I can tell you the answer they will respond with, it is their classic answer that the information requested is 'legal professional privilege' and therefore exempt from the Data Protection Act 1998. They are bluffing!!! and they dont frighten me, so my friend, get on with you life and let them make fools of their organisation. Good lenders should avoid HSE with a very long stick!

-- Anne Marie David (annemariedavid@blueyonder.co.uk), December 04, 2001.

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