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Irish debt collector ordered to pay damages for bullying and harassment

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - Posted by Philip Harvey

A debt collector (McCarton) has been ordered by the court to pay 22,500 euros in damages to a woman (Ms Sullivan) who a judge deemed was harassed, intimidated and bullied over a disputed debt with a building contractor.

Ms Sullivan had engaged a building company to car out works on her home, and had paid 84,000 euros towards this. However a dispute had arisen over whether certain works had been carried out. The building company engaged McCarton to attempt to collect the disputed 20,000 euros.

In attempting to collect the disputed debt, McCarton undertook the following activities;
- left messages stating " "My calls and presence will continue. I will embarrass you to your neighbours if you continue."
- an email stating "pay up and save yourself all the embarrassment."
- advised Ms Sullivan he would be "in attendance" outside her house because of non-payment and he would "start knocking on doors and telling her neighbours" until the debt was paid.
- parked his van  with the sign "Licensed Debt Collectors" prominently displayed on it, in front of her house.  The police moved him on, but were powerless to stop him from returning.

The judge held that McCartan's behaviour amounted to prima facie breaches of sections of the non fatal offences against the person act. The demands were clearly made to alarm and humiliate her he added. He also held that Mr McCartan had breached her constitutional rights to the protection of the person. What was objectionable about his conduct was its persistent, premeditated, unyielding and oppressive character.

He ordered that Mr McCartan should pay her general damages of €15,000 and a further €7,500 exemplary damages for his behaviour.


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