As blogged previously, McCrorys Removals Ltd and the so called, National Guild of Removers and Storers Ltd are involved in a legal dispute, in which the ‘so called’ guild also known as ngrs are trying to claim over £14,000 plus costs from us.
This has been dragging on for about two and a half years now, and started when McCrorys Removals Ltd decided to take advantage of a free 99 day trial membership of ngrs, but because we missed the cancellation deadline, we were informed that we were now liable for a two year membership fee of £3,800.
In spite of appealing to ngrs on a number of occasions and letting them know that we could not see any benefit from their membership, they insisted that we were liable, and, in fact then, in a solicitors letter, went on to say that, as we had not paid the fee in the expected time, we no longer owed them £3,800, as that was a ‘discounted price’ and in fact we now owed them the full rate of membership, amounting to £11,000 for two years.
As any reasoning person might imagine, we were unlikely to want to continue to want any association with such an outfit, and told them and their solicitors, that, ‘if we had made it repeatedly plain, that we did not even want a free membership, we certainly didn’t want it at such an inflated, invented price.
If we decided not to be in any way associated with the so called guild, of our own free will, then we would certainly be unlikely to join through such demands, or as a result of them trying to impose such an invented and inflated ‘penalty’.
As a Litigant in Person, and acting without a solicitor, in order to keep the costs down we managed to prepare a defence, once the Court Claim papers arrived.
We filed our defence directly by email, to the County Court with about 36 hours to spare, and received an automated email acknowledgement.
However, about three days later, and after the deadline, we got an email from the court saying that because of the ‘word doc.’ format that we used, they were unable to open our attachments and requesting us to re-submit them, which we did promptly as well as then posting hard copies.
About a week later we got a letter from the co called guilds solicitor Coyle White Devine, informing us that a judgement had been granted against us by default, and that we were to pay up the full amount forthwith including all of their fees, and that if not paid immediately they promised to apply for immediate enforcement action and would add more charges and also interest too.
We applied to the court to have the judgement ‘set aside’.
Ngrs objected, mainly on the grounds that our defence had no prospect of success.
So we had a hearing, at which the judge disagreed with ngrs and ruled that McCrorys Removals Ltd did in fact have a defence, and that the court was granting McCrorys a Set Aside.
At this hearing we pointed out to the judge that we had in fact offered to pay the only amount that we had ever signed up to, which was £3,800 and this offer was made more than a year earlier and made repeatedly and in writing, but was always refused.
The judge noted that we offered this also in the court, and we did in fact pay that amount immediately after the hearing.
That was in Dec. 2013.
In the meantime, NGRS have now, once again, applied to have my defence Struck Out, on the grounds that is has no real chance of success.
They also applied for an order to have my defence struck out because it is ‘defective’ and not in accordance with Court Procedure Rules, and in particular, that it contained ‘Without Prejudice’ correspondence, which is not allowed apparently, according to the CPR rules.
As soon as this was pointed out to me, I agreed to delete any offending material, but ngrs still persisted and applied for a court hearing to ‘strike out’ my defence.
The hearing for that ‘strike out’ was about two weeks ago, just before Easter at Milton Keynes Court. But through some slip up by the court officials, there was only 15 minutes allocated for the hearing, which would have taken, at least, two hours.
Because of the added complexities, and all these extra hearings/applications, we decided to appoint a solicitor, James Lomax, from Backhouse Jones, as they have had some success in a number of cases against the so called guild.
James had arranged for a Barrister, to meet us at the hearing, and ngrs had sent a Barrister too.
When we finally got into the courtroom the Judge, made it clear that it was impossible to deal with such a lot of paperwork in such a short time, and stated that she could not understand why ngrs barrister could not have simply waited till the full trial date, which had a full day allocated already for 17th July, and any need to look at my defence being Struck Out could be dealt with then, before that trial on the same morning.
But ngrs barrister insisted that this was her ‘instructions’ and the only ‘concession’ that ngrs were prepared to make, would be to ask the judge to simply look at the ‘narrow procedural defects of my defence’ and consider a ‘strike out’ without having to deal with the ‘merits of my defence’ .. the judge, mccrorys and our Barrister all disagreed that this would be acceptable.
So, a further date was found for the ngrs to try again to have McCrorys defence Struck Out and that will be on 10th June.
It appears that ngrs are very determined that McCrorys Removals Ltd do not have any trial, as this will be a few attempts at trying to persuade the courts that we have no real chance of success.
Curiously, nothing has changed since our last appearance in front of a Judge, and she decided that McCrorys Removals did in fact appear to have a creditable defence.
We are aware of many other removal companies that are suffering from large claims and being threatened with legal actions by ngrs, some of which are identical to mccrorys removals ltd, so, we can understand the reluctance of ngrs to allow us to have our defence heard in a court room, as, if they lose, they are potentially losing all the other cases in the pipeline.
We are looking forward to hearing ngrs’s justification for questioning the previous clearly stated decision of the courts.
As we have now instructed a solicitor, we have given notice to ngrs that McCrorys Removals Ltd will be seeking to claim full legal costs for all of these additional hearings to be paid by ngrs.
I received that latest large bundle of threatening letters from ngrs on 17th March, which, of course, is St Patrick’s Day, and, the one day of the year that McCrorys Removals should be seen celebrating.
As the photograph showing Patrick McCrory holding a Pint of Guinness relaxing in Nottingham City Centre shows, the arrival of another bundle of Court Papers, doesn’t seem to have dampened the spirits too much!
In fact if Patrick’s lips could be read, he might be toasting the so called guild’s owner and wishing Mr Geoffrey Salt a long and healthy life enjoying the fruits of the British Justice System.
The final trial date will be 10 am on 17th July at:
Milton Keynes County Court
351 Silbury Bvd
Witan Gate East
Central Milton Keynes MK9 2DT