Friday 15 August 2014

Harassment and the service industry: let the seller beware?

If there has been a more stirring introduction to a court opinion than the following, I haven't read it recently:

“It is one of the glories of this country that every now and then one of its citizens is prepared to take a stand against the big battalions of government or industry. Such a person is Lisa Ferguson, the claimant in this case.”

So said the English Court of Appeal in 2009 when it upheld Ms. Ferguson's complaint against British Gas Trading Ltd, brought under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. To some, Ms. Ferguson may well be a hero; to others, perhaps less so. In any event, on closer consideration, the approach the courts have adopted in this and other applications under the Act is clearly broadening the scope of its applicability far beyond the original intention and, moreover, in ways of direct and critical relevance to the day to day work that clients and their lawyers do.