Harassment of a Debtor

The Court of Appeal has recently considered a case where a bank (the creditor) over a period of 13 months made 547 calls or attempted calls to a debtor who had made it clear that she did not want to talk to them and wanted them to stop phoning her.  The debtor was greatly distressed by these calls and took the view that the bank’s conduct amounted to harassment. 

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 prohibits a person from pursuing a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another.  Harassment includes alarming the person or causing the person distress.  The debtor therefore issued a claim for damages and a court having found in favour of the debtor awarded her £7,500 in damages for the harassment she had suffered.  The bank then appealed to the Court of Appeal.  The Court of Appeal said that the existence of a debt does not give a creditor the right to bombard a debtor with endless and repeated telephone calls.  A debtor is fully entitled to say that they do not wish to talk to the creditor.  Once a creditor had tried to telephone a debtor on a few occasions and had received the same response on each occasion it is obvious that further telephone calls would achieve nothing. 

In dismissing the bank’s appeal the court also stated that the level of damages was fully appropriate for the clear distress which the Judge found the creditor had inflicted on someone who was supposed to be its customer.  If you think you are being bombarded with phone calls in this way by any of your creditors then you should take legal advice to see whether or not you can also bring a claim.