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The 16-Year PC World Legal Battle Over A Modem


Taking on big companies in court is very expensive and very time-consuming.

Many people who have grievances against big companies often decide against pursuing their case because of the prospect of court battles involving powerful lawyers.

Some people passionately pursue their case, despite the fact it could ruin them.

READ MORE: The $5 million McDonald’s lawsuit launched over slices of cheese

Others, particularly in the U.S, launch spurious cases that get thrown out of court by furious judges who feel their time is being wasted.

Some examples of this can be found here.

And if you like McDonald's more cases can be found here.

Huge lawsuits tend to be much more common in the U.S, but have been known in the UK.

Richard Durkin vs PC World and HFC Bank

The case dates back to 1998 and Mr Durkin's purchase of a £1,500 laptop on credit provided by HFC in a store in Aberdeen, Scotland.

The row stemmed from Mr. Durkin's claim he was told by staff the laptop had an internal modem, which was vital for what he needed it for.

When he found out it didn't have the modem, he tried to return it.

However, both PC World and HFC refused to accept it.

This led to him suing both companies.

He claimed they both breached their contract with him.

He also claimed the bank had ruined his credit rating after he tried to back out of the agreement.

It was confirmed he had been "blacklisted" by the bank following his complaint, which subsequently led to him being unable to buy a house.

The case took 10 years to come to trial and Mr.Durkin was initially successful, being awarded £116,000 in damages.

READ MORE: $67 million for lost pants and a terrifying commercial: More of the most ridiculous lawsuits of all time

HFC, a division of HSBC which operated PC World's credit system, appealed.

In the end, the case ended up being heard by the UK Supreme Court.

In 2014, the court ruled in favour of Mr. Durkin, saying HFC had broken its contract and were liable for any loss he had suffered.

16 years, £8,000 payout

Despite the 16-year case, Mr. Durkin was awarded just £8,000 in damages.

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Speaking to The Guardian after the case, Mr. Durkin said: It's victory, but they didn't have jurisdiction to help me in the end, which is disappointing.

"But I'm pleased for the consumer. A lot of people will benefit from this – it's massive."

Had he lost the case, he would've probably been bankrupted, with a £300,000 legal bill to pay on top of his own £250,000 costs.

Mr. Durkin's lawyers said after the trial around 20 people in similar positions had come forward asking about legal action following his case.

Image: David Iliff

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