11/20/2007

Can we take the government to the Small Claims Court ?

After today's disaster involving 25 million people having their data lost or stolen, I am wondering if it is possible for me (one of the 25 million) to take the government to the small claims court.

Because of what they have done I am going to have to make more phone calls, close my bank account, open a new account, and in short be out of pocket. Surely I could take them to court for some of this ?

Any advice ?

6 comments:

Hywel said...

I can't honestly see why not.

The negligence is pretty clear and people will have suffered a loss in terms of inconvenience in checking bank accounts, changing passwords etc.

I got around £100 from my bank when they blatantly broke the DPA a couple of years back. Didn't need a claim though as they just paid out.

Harry Haddock said...

I've blogged about this Nich, and I am under the impression you cannot sue the taxman at all, period. I know it sounds amazing, but it is true.

Hywel said...

Harry - the case you refer to seems to relate just to advising people over tax affairs.

It would be quite a leap to extend that to not having a duty of care in other matters - especially where that duty is set out in statute as well.

Bernard Salmon said...

Bugger the Small Claims Court. You and as many as possible of the 25 million should be thinking about launching a class action against the government - not just for the inconvenience caused in having to change things like bank accounts, but for breaching your privacy and human rights.

Harry Haddock said...

Nope, the guy wasn't being 'advised' by HMRC, he was faced with a demand that sent him bankrupt, which was later found to be bogus. He therefore sued for compensation. The Judges rules that the fact that they couldn't be leable for 'advice' effectively meant they has no duty of care to their 'customers'. So I can't see how anyone could sue.

The only person who could prosecute would be for the goverment to bring a criminal action under the data protection act, which would, in effect, be the goverment prosecuting itself. This is from accountingweb.co.uk;

'A judge has ruled that a builder who lost £500,000 as a result of HMRC errors and delays cannot sue the government department for damages.

Neil Martin from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria took the Revenue to court claiming that its mismanagement had caused his construction business to collapse. But during a hearing in the High Court yesterday, deputy judge Andrew Simmonds QC ruled that because the Revenue does not have a duty of care to taxpayers, Martin is not entitled to sue.

Although the judge agreed that the Revenue was guilty of a "negligent" 52-day delay in processing an important Construction Industry Scheme tax form, it would not be "fair, just and reasonable" to impose a duty of care on HRMC.

Speaking in court, Nicholas Bowen, Martin's barrister, said the decision meant the Revenue was "immune from being sued by taxpayers".

It has been reported that Martin, who intends to appeal against the ruling, now faces personal bankruptcy due to his £250,000 tax bill and heavy legal costs.

Anonymous said...

Check out www.civiltree.com. I think they have guides on how to sue a governmental agency.

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