SARNS (info only available back to 1998)

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I took advantage of some free legal advice today regarding the shortfall demand against my morgage.I asked about serving a SARN and was told that this was virtually useless as the act only came into effect in 1998 and no one was legally obliged to provide any information recorded before this time.Is this true?

-- Mark (mark.jakins@btinternet.com), February 27, 2002

Answers

No, this is incorrect.

The DPA changed in 1998 and 2001, but the concept remains the same, just better each time.

After October 1998 Data Controllers were able to claim excemption in response to a SARN. They were allowed to with-hold data if it was created before a given date and was part of a filing system before Oct 1998.

This excemption was cancelled in October 2001.

Now, when you serve a SARN on a company they have to provide you with all documents filed against your name. They are allowed, within reason to refuse to identify authors and addresses, and their details, of memo's and letters, but everything filed against your name must be provided.

I susgest that you call the Information Commisisons consumer help line on 01625-545-700. They are very helpful and are the Sun source of advice about the DPA.

Good Luck.

-- Harry (pearson_harry@hotmail.com), February 27, 2002.


And was this free advice given by a solicitor?

In my own personal experiance and opinion most solicitors know naff all about the DPA.

Good Luck.

-- Harry (pearson_harry@hotmail.com), February 27, 2002.


SARNs did exist and could be used in this context before 1998. They also should apply to all information held about you by the company you serve them on - they are not restricted to information acquired since 1998.

That said... I think the SARN thing has moved on since I wrote most of the SARN-related pages on this site.

At the time I started this site in May 1997, a lot of people didn't know SARNs existed. They didn't know that you could - in theory - use a SARN to gain access to all the electronically-stored data that a lender held about you.

Nor did lawyers. At that time, pretty much everyone thought SARNs were the 2 notices you served on credit reference agencies to get your credit records. In fact SARNs are a very different beast to those credit reference agency notices.

So, faced with the same problem most repossessees face - a lender that won't provide evidence for its actions over the sale of your mortgage's security property - I served a SARN on Bradford & Bingley. I wanted to see if the SARN would force them to answer questions they were refusing to answer about the sale of my security property. They were (and still are) chasing me for 35,600 or so.

Although the SARN did not answer all my questions, it did produce very interesting information and more names of companies to serve more SARNs on. It did give me clues about weak spots in Bradford & Bingley's claims and that encouraged me to not give in but to keep on questioning Bradford & Bingley's claims. It also gave me hints about actions that might embarrass Bradford & Bingley in court should it ever decide to sue me for its alleged claim.

So many people have served SARNs now that lenders and their lawyers have become more sophisticated in their replies to them.

Is serving a SARN going to win your case for you? No, not usually. Some people have stopped the repossession claim in its tracks by serving a SARN. I know of two cases where lenders (Woolwich in one case; Bradford & Bingley in the other) collated information for the SARN, realised that they couldn't find any documentation for the property sale and wrote to say they were giving up the claim. Most people find things in SARNs that are useful for further investigation but these days they are more something that you can help to use as evidence that your lender was not prepared to cooperate in negotiating and that it should therefore should pay costs for suing you should it choose to do so.

SARNs are not a magic bullet. But they are one useful tool in your bag of legal rights tools. At typically 10 per notice, they are among the most effective resources you have. But you are responsible for using it. You are responsible for analysing the result. You are responsible complaining to the Information Commissioner if the result looks hokey. You are responsible for serving SARNs on every other company name that shows up in each SARN response you get.

Or you can choose not to use it. How hard you fight is your choice.

To see the results of (some) SARNs I and others have served, go to:
My two BBBS SARNs combined
Part of my SARN response from Wescot - I found Wescot's name in BBBS's response to my first SARN
one customer's revealing discoveries after serving a SARN on Grabbey National (In my opinion Grabbey National is quite the most appalling mainstream mortgage lender.)
Woolwich backs off after SARN
Bradford & Bingley backs off after SARN



-- Lee (repossession@bigfoot.com), February 27, 2002.

Lee's advice, comments & observations on SARN's is totally sound. Read it and use it, it's your rights that are being discussed here.

I'd just add that the 40-day time limit is extended if the company asks for confirmation of your request, or verification of your ID. Then the 40 time limit changes to the day that your response to the companies request is received.

Good Luck.

-- Harry (pearson_harry@hotmail.com), March 03, 2002.


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