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Overturning a CCJ on basis of possibly unlawful contract

(8 Posts)
HarrumphingAndBonfireAdjusting Mon 02-Nov-09 18:35:02

Please help if you at all can, am in such a muddle!
Joined a gym when I was 17. Was living in one town but attending college in another, so gym was in town where college was IYSWIM.
Got to the summer hols, and realised I was never going to go whilst at home, and kept getting bank charges for going overdrawn due to gym memebership going out (teenage financial mismanagement, clever me.) So asked gym if I could cancel the two year contact, and the said no. Went in to bank andwas told to simply cancel my direct debit, which I duly did.
Gym kept sending me letters asking for the money, which I ignored as I didn't understand the implications of the contract. A month after my 18th birthday, I got a form from the County Court saying the gym were suing me for unpaid memebership fees and legal costs. Had a real panic; had just found out I was pregnant so simply accepted judgement and have been paying it ever since.
Did a bit of research into contract law, and found a piece of legislation which says that an under 18 cannot be held responsible for a contact unless it is signed for an 'essentil' reason such as work or rent. Gym obviously doesn't fit into this, and parents never countersigned contract (gym didn;t ask)
So, I wrote to the gym asking for a copy of the original contract. They responded with a letter saying I had paid off the full amount and didn;t need to send them any more money which I was a bt hmm about as according to the CCJ I still owe them £275. No mention of requested contract. Wrote to them again a week and a half ago requesting it again, but no response (possibly due to postal strike.) Suspect gym are being evasive as they know it's all a bit dodgy. Am desperate to get judgement overturned as am hoping to join the police after graduation and this amy affect my chances.
Would be grateful for any advice. Also posted in chat in the hope a friendly legal type might spot it!

PlasticBandit Mon 02-Nov-09 21:00:10

Hi, what you read is correct - minors, ie those under the age of 18 cannot be held to account for contracts other than for "necessaries" - is this a bit like what you read?.
You were under legal age when you entered into the contract. It was not for a "necessary". You should approach the court and ask for the judgement to be set aside. It would appear that judgement was entered in your absence, and was wrongly arrived at, given your age.
As you have realised, this CCJ could prejudice your chances of your chosen career. That would be a shame, as you have done nothing wrong, other that to be rather innocent. A set aside judgement is your best hope of putting you back to where you started, before the gym membership, IYKWIM?
Also - you should ask the court for any payments that you have made under that previous CCJ to be returned to you as the contract was illegal; therefore any CCJ pursuant thereto was inavlid.
Best wishes - what is legally right is not always what happens.

PlasticBandit Mon 02-Nov-09 21:05:12

PS - if you do go back to court - you absolutely do have to turn up, or else you're f**d

pregnantpeppa Mon 02-Nov-09 21:15:29

You need form N244 - you can pop into the court office between 10am and 4pm to pick one up and the CAB could help you complete it although its fairly straightforward. You are asking for the order to be set aside because you were under 18 when you entered into the contract, and for the gym to repay you the monies you have already paid them under the judgment. If you don't have a copy of the contract ask the court staff for copies of the original claim form when the gym applied for judgement - they probably would have exhibited the contract. I would check your date of birth is on the contract so that the gym cannot argue they were not aware of your age! I'm sure it must be standard for gyms to take the date of birth of their customers though. You might want to do a brief statement explaining that you accepted the judgment previously (I'm not clear if you sent the forms back to the court or not to say you accepted, or if you initially ignored them, whereby the gym would have got judgment in default) Exhibit your birth cert as well.
You will probably have to go along to a hearing but it should be completely straightforward. Good luck!

pregnantpeppa Mon 02-Nov-09 21:16:57

Sorry I meant to say your statement should explain you accepted judgement as at the time you did not realise under 18s could not enter into contracts - you have recently found out & hence why you are making the application.

And all of what plasticbandit said.

LSEE Tue 03-Nov-09 19:01:52

I wish you luck with this although it may not be as straightforward as you think. As you were under 18 the contract was voidable at your instance on the grounds that you didn't have capacity to enter into it. However, given that you did enter into it and obtained benefit from it by using the gym and clearly realised that it was a 2 year contract, arguably you did understand what you were entering into and on that basis the court may not allow you to void the contract now, especially as, at 17, you were very near the age of majority when you signed up. The definition of "essentials" isn't quite a restrictive as you might think - for example a minor can enter into a banking contract but it could be argued that a bank account isn't really "essential".

LSEE Tue 03-Nov-09 19:02:59

Should add that in practice had you challenged it at the time the gym would probably have backed down as they're unlikely to want to be seen taking children to court...

HarrumphingAndBonfireAdjusting Tue 03-Nov-09 20:00:20

Thanks so much for advice- is so helpful. Am going to go get form N244 on Friday and fill it it. Assume court must've seen contract, soo will confirm that if gym continues to be evasive. Will keep you posted, and thanks again.

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