In October 2019, PRA Group UK Limited issued a Claim against a consumer in respect of an alleged agreement the consumer was alleged to have entered into with MBNA. I say alleged as none of the allegations made by PRA in their Claim were ever proven. The consumer subsequently instructed Joanna Connolly Solicitors to represent him in the legal proceedings.
Upon review of our client’s defence and CPR Part 18 questions, PRA themselves identified errors within their own particulars of claim, and later agreed to amend their Claim with leave for our client to amend his defence. PRA also agreed to pay our client’s costs of the said amendments.
The proceedings were delayed owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, in November 2021, upon my firm’s advice, my firm was instructed to apply to strike out the amended particulars of claim as, similar to the initial Claim, the amended particulars of claim did not comply with the relevant civil procedure rules and did not plead any cause of action against our client.
The application was heard by District Judge MacCuish sitting in the county court at Derby, at which I represented our client. The Judge opened the proceedings by advising PRA’s representative that he believed the amended particulars of claim ‘left a lot to be desired’. The Judge proceeded to strike the particulars of claim out, ordered PRA to again pay our client’s costs, and granted PRA one final chance to amend its particulars of claim.
PRA issued further amended particulars of claim in February 2022. We determined the further amended particulars of claim failed to comply with the Judge’s strict order for compliance and again applied for an order striking out the Claim entirely in March 2022.
The hearing of the Application was heard this week and was heard again by District Judge MacCuish sitting in the county court at Derby, at which our client was represented by Joanna Connolly, Solicitor Advocate. The Judge struck the Claim out entirely on all of the three grounds raised before him as to PRA’s non-compliance and once again ordered PRA to pay our client’s costs.
In these proceedings, although the same would have been challenged, PRA may well have thought themselves to have had a ‘complete suite’ of documents, and so this case is an important reminder that the provision of documents alone is not the be all and end all of a case. Consumers should be vigilant and consider whether a Claimant’s case is adequately pleaded and in compliance with the rules that must be adhered to.
If consumers are unsure, they should seek specialist legal advice. In this case, and because of the advice and actions taken by our firm, the Claim never even reached the stage of being considered on the merits or balance of probabilities and was subsequently struck out owing to the many failures on the part of PRA. It is also a representation of the strong advocacy skills which we often provide in-house, something which is a quite unique offering provided to consumers by our firm.
The consequence for PRA is that they lost any right to demand the sums claimed from our client and are now the recipient of three separate court orders which will almost certainly see PRA pay more in costs than the sum they originally claimed from our client.