- More than 700 applications so far
- Claims scheme offers redress to postmasters
- Independent advisory panel will assess claims
The Post Office is reminding current and former postmasters there is a month left to apply to the claims scheme for those who believe they have experienced shortfalls related to previous versions of its computer system Horizon.
The Historical Shortfall Scheme was launched on 1 May and follows the agreed settlement last year of group litigation between Post Office and 555 mainly former postmasters. The closing date for applications is 14 August 2020 and there have been 715 applications so far (as of 8 July).
During the court proceedings the current version of Horizon, an electronic point of sale system, was found to be robust relative to comparable systems, but the Court highlighted issues regarding previous versions that had the potential to affect branch accounting.
Full information for potential applicants, including the eligibility criteria and application form, is available at www.onepostoffice.co.uk/scheme or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to ask for the information. Please note these are Post Office addresses as this is a Post Office scheme. All claims will be assessed by an independent advisory panel of specialists from the fields of law, forensic accounting and retail. The panel is: Alex Charlton QC, a leading barrister with particular expertise in software and IT systems; Susan Blower, a forensic accounting partner at BDO and fellow of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales; and retail expert Sunder Sandher, a member of the Independent Retailer Board of the Association of Convenience Stores.
Applicants should use email to minimise any potential delays with responding to queries and processing their application. If they do not have any access to an email address, in those circumstances they can apply by post to Post Office Historical Shortfall Scheme, PO Box 76882, London E1W 9RR. Applicants will need to use Royal Mail as PO Box addresses can only accept post from Royal Mail and not from other carriers or couriers.
Post Office is of course continuing to monitor the changing Coronavirus situation and any impact on the scheme and we will keep applicants updated on any such changes on the scheme website.
A dispute resolution procedure is available for applicants not satisfied with the assessment outcome, providing further review stages and independent mediation.
The independent mediation provider will be Wandsworth Mediation Service, a charitable community mediation service chaired by Stephen Ruttle QC who co-mediated the resolution of the group litigation. All income generated by the service is used for charitable purposes.
Post Office Historical Shortfall Scheme
Full details of the scheme including eligibility criteria and the terms of reference that apply can be found at www.onepostoffice.co.uk/scheme or by emailing email@example.com. Please note these are Post Office addresses as this is a Post Office scheme - all applications will be assessed by the independent advisory panel.
Applications must be made on the official scheme’s application form, obtainable at these same addresses, to be eligible. Applicants should follow the advice provided regarding information to accompany their application.
The scheme covers shortfalls related to previous versions of Horizon in use from around 2000. It does not relate to the current version of Horizon.
The group litigation between Post Office and 555 mainly former postmasters concluded following successful mediation and agreed settlement in December 2019.
As part of the proceedings, the Court determined a number of generic, technical matters concerning previous Horizon systems used since around 2000. It did not determine individual cases.
A joint press statement was issued on 11 December 2019 by both parties involved in the litigation.