Friday 15th March 2019
Today, the Honourable Mr Justice Fraser has published his judgment on the first trial of a Group Litigation Order brought against Post Office. The purpose of this trial was to set out how the contracts between Post Office Limited and postmasters should be interpreted. This is the first of four expected trials looking at claims from a number of mainly former postmasters, many arising from the period before we became an independent business.
Post Office chairman Tim Parker said:
“We take this judgment and its criticisms of Post Office very seriously.
“While the culture and practices of the business have improved in many ways over the years, the Judge’s comments are a forceful reminder to us that we must always continue to do better. We have taken his criticisms on board and will take action throughout our organisation.
“Our postmasters are the backbone of our business, and our first priority will be to consider the points raised about the management of our contractual relationships and how we could improve them.
“We will make sure that problems brought to our attention by postmasters are investigated even more quickly and transparently.
“In addition, we will further improve communications with postmasters, as well as the training and support they receive.
“We note that the judgment highlights the ways our Network Transformation Programme improved procedures for incoming postmasters since 2011. The vast majority of those running post offices do so without problems and we can reassure the millions of customers who use our services every week that this judgment, focusing as it does on the interpretation of contracts with postmasters, will not affect their ability to do so.
“Post Office will continue to defend the overall litigation, which has been underway since April 2016 and is scheduled to continue through four trials until at least March 2020.
“This judgment from the first trial is long and detailed and we will take time to consider it fully.
“There are, however, areas around the interpretation of our contracts where the Judge’s conclusions differ from what we expected from a legal standpoint and we are therefore seriously considering an appeal on certain legal interpretations.”
Notes to editors:
- It is important to stress that this judgment relates to the contractual relationship between agents and Post Office Ltd and is the first of four trials currently scheduled in this litigation.
- The second trial, relating to the Horizon computer system, is now underway.
- Neither of these trials have or will make findings on individual claims, or on breach or liability.
- Post Office will continue to defend the litigation which has been underway since April 2016 and is scheduled to continue until at least March 2020.