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Post Office launches Historical Shortfall Scheme for Postmasters

Press release   •   May 01, 2020 12:52 BST

The Post Office today (1 May 2020) announced the launch of a claims scheme for current and former postmasters who believe they have experienced shortfalls related to previous versions of its computer system Horizon.

The Historical Shortfall Scheme launch follows the agreed settlement last year of group litigation between Post Office and 555 mainly former postmasters.

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.

Nick Read, Group CEO, said: 

“We are resolving past events fairly where we got things wrong. The launch of this scheme is an important milestone that demonstrates a more open and transparent relationship with postmasters and offers redress for those who may have experienced shortfalls related to previous versions of the computer system Horizon.”

The scheme is open from today to both current and former postmasters. Full information for potential applicants, including the eligibility criteria and application form, is available at www.onepostoffice.co.uk/scheme or by emailing historicalshortfallscheme@postoffice.co.uk 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.

Applications should be received by midnight on Friday 14 August 2020 to be eligible. 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 will of course continue 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.

Every eligible application will be thoroughly investigated and the outcomes assessed by an independent advisory panel. 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 historicalshortfallscheme@postoffice.co.uk. Please note these are Post Office addresses as this is a Post Office scheme - all applications will be assessed by an 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 principles and scope of the scheme have been endorsed by the mediators who helped to negotiate the settlement of the group litigation.

Group Litigation

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.