Judicial intervention is “inevitable” because the post office and the legal representatives of illegally convicted aides are “polar” in terms of assessments of compensation in the negotiations, Computer Weekly has learned.

In a letter to the law firm representing the post office, Herbert Smith Freehills, a lawyer negotiating on behalf of 61 former helpers who have been wrongfully convicted, wrote that although progress has been made in the value of property losses, both sides are “some distance ”regarding the assessment of non-property losses.

Neil Huddle of Hudgell Solicitors wrote that the postal service assessed the non-pecuniary losses, which included “loss of liberty, damage to reputation, psychiatric injuries and other aggravated and exemplary damages” at five figures, while the plaintiff’s lawyers rated it at six figures.

“In other words, for a sentence dating back to the early 2000s, you [Post Office] set the value to a maximum of £ 5,000 per year or £ 100 per week. With these numbers, as you would expect, we are poles from each other, “Huddle wrote.

He said progress was being made in estimating property losses, which could be calculated mathematically, but the difference in assessing non-property losses made some form of judicial intervention “an inevitable consequence” as “the only workable solution for moving forward”.

More than 700 former aiders have been convicted of crimes after being accused of unexplained accounting omissions based on evidence from the Horizon Post Office’s retail and accounting system used in branches, which was later shown to be error-prone. . This is the most common miscarriage of justice in British history with overturned sentences for a total of 73 of those convicted so far, 61 of whom were represented by Hudgel.

In 2009, Computer Weekly uncovered a scandal involving the stories of seven aid-affected areas (see the history of Computer Weekly articles since it broke history in 2009.)

In the letter, Huddle expresses the frustration of customers who have yet to be compensated, despite many years and even decades of suffering: “Our customers believe that this is not being done fast enough and that the postal service continues to control the story. In particular, frustration is exacerbated when public statements about early settlements do not turn into action on the ground.

Hudgell said the company intends to recommend “a more cost-effective and potentially faster way to Supreme Court proceedings is through some form of ADR.”

But he said this could not happen until a position was settled on a number of issues.

He demanded open recognition of responsibility from the Postal Service in respect of all its customers, except for three disputed cases. “This proposal has so far been rejected by your clients, but there can be no permanent justifiable basis for this, except as a cynical trick for negotiations. If there has to be an ADR and it fails, we just don’t want to deal with it later. “

Hudgell also requested additional interim payments, as the ADR process “will inevitably take many months to complete.”

“We remind you that many of our clients are elderly, in poor health and that time is not on their side,” Huddle wrote.

“Concerns about this trial continue to ruin their lives; they need closure and comfort in their later years. In addition, many have acute psychiatric diagnoses, recovery of which will only be achieved through closure.

He said the initial interim payments had gone to settle the debts of many victims and only scratched the surface of the losses: “Many of our customers simply cannot afford these claims to continue for many more months. We are not ready to accept a situation in which they have to settle receivables below their true value due to short-term financial need or closure.

https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252516675/Judicial-intervention-inevitable-as-Post-Office-compensation-valuation-falls-short

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