After 16 years and £250,000, man wins epic court battle over £1,500 laptop (but he only gets an £8,000 payout)
A man placed on a credit blacklist after a row over payments for a laptop computer said today he had "mixed feelings" despite winning a court battle that lasted 16 years.
Richard Durkin, who is in his 40s and comes from Aberdeen, spent £250,000 on legal fees in the protracted dispute over a £1,500 laptop he bought from PC World.
Today, Supreme Court justices ruled that a bank had breached its "duty of care" and awarded him a payout of just £8,000.
Mr Durkin, who had initially been awarded £116,000 by a Scottish court but appealed against the size of the damages, said he was glad that his "consumer victory" would help the "greater good".
But he said he had run up bills of about £250,000 on litigation which started more than a decade ago and was in "a lot of debt".
Durkin bought the laptop from PC World in Aberdeen in 1998. He paid a £50 deposit and signed a credit agreement with lender HFC Bank for around £1,500, Supreme Court justices heard.
He returned the computer the next day because it did not have an internal modem, and asked for the credit agreement to be cancelled.
HFC said he had to keep making payments and after he refused the bank issued a default notice leading to him being blacklisted for credit.
PC World has previously argued that Durkin bought the laptop knowing that it did not have an internal modem. Durkin claimed the financial blacklisting had a major impact on his finances and prevented him from buying a family home in Spain in late 2003.
He took his case to court arguing that he had "validly rescinded" the credit agreement and initially won damages of £116,000, but later appealed against the amount awarded.
The Supreme Court today ruled in his favour, saying he was entitled to rescind the credit agreement and had done so "validly", but only awarded him £8,000.
In his ruling, Lord Hodge said he was "satisfied" that Mr Durkin had been entitled to rescind the credit agreement.
"I would allow the appeal and declare that Mr Durkin was entitled to rescind and validly rescinded the credit agreement by giving notice to HFC," he said.
"Damages resulting from HFC's breach of its duty of care are confined to injury to Mr Durkin's credit in the sum of £8,000."
Mr Durkin said he was disappointed the Supreme Court did not restore the full damages of £116,000 awarded by a Scottish court.
He told BBC News: "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."
"Sometimes you have to do what is right, and not what is easy," he added.