This Man Spent 16 Years And £250,000 In A Legal Battle Over A PC World Laptop

Richard Durkin bought a laptop PC World in Aberdeen in 1998 - now he’s just been told by the Supreme Court that the he’ll get £8,000 in damages due to an invalid in-store credit deal.

1. Richard Durkin is not a man who gives up lightly. After 16 years and £250,000 in legal fees, he’s just won a victory in the Supreme Court over a laptop and a credit agreement.

National News


Durkin, a 44-year-old father of two, today learned that he would receive £8,000 in damages after the Supreme Court allowed his appeal to the court that a credit agreement he entered to buy a computer was invalid. But it’s been a long battle for him.

This all started in 1998 when he bought a £1,499 laptop from PC World but was unsure whether it included an in-built modem. He was told he could return it if it didn’t.

But when he got home and it had none, PC World wouldn’t let him return it.

He left he computer at the shop, even though the manager wouldn’t accept it, only to find a fortnight later that it had been mailed back to him. He sued PC World to recover his £50 deposit, which they paid without accepting liability. At this point he thought that was the end of it.

But this was only the start. The device was bought on in-store credit and the company holding the credit agreement, HFC Bank, wouldn’t cancel the deal. It treated him as being in default - meaning that negative credit scores were sent to credit agencies, so Durkin was refused credit cards and bank accounts. HFC wasn’t interested in hearing the details of his agreement, he claims.

In 2008 the Sherrif’s court in Aberden ruled that he had validly cancelled the agreement with PC World and awarded him £116,000 in damages - BUT that ruling was later overturned by the Court of Session in Edinburgh on appeal.

Today’s decision is the vindication he was waiting for (here is the judgment) but it leaves him out of pocket in a big way. Durkin had sought £250,000 in damages in total, but today was awarded just £8,000.

Durkin has said a defeat in Supreme Court would leave him bankrupt, despite pro bono legal advice and support from the Law Society of Scotland and Scottish QC Andrew Smith.

2. He tells BBC News today that while this is good news for consumers, it’s less positive for him personally.

I am disappointed that the Supreme Court was unable to restore to me the full damages awarded by the sheriff - even though it was clear that they were sympathetic to my position on this.

This decision is a great victory for all consumers and I am proud to have been the driving force behind it.

As a result of the decision, no consumer will have to endure again what I had to put up with - the loss of the ability to buy a family home because of wrongful blacklisting of me.

Taking a case to any court is a huge stress, but taking it to the highest court in the land with all the risks that go with it was the most stressful thing that anyone could voluntarily put themselves through.

4. Consumer campaigners are hoping this will mean more protection for shoppers in similar situations.

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Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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