Music Files (civil case)
Mmm…after m last blog I can almost feel the mutterings of disapproval. Like most prisoners, the last thing I want to do is to take a claim against the Ministry of Justice, I have better things to do with my life. In this civil case they are claiming £32.000 in costs (yet to be decided by the Court). Here’s a potted history of the attempts I made to resolve this case before, and during, legal action.
Those of you who have read my previous blogs will know that all I wanted was a copy of the music recordings I had made between 2004 – 2010, an estimated 286 hours of my work. Don’t forget, these were music recordings for which I owned the intellectual copyright. I didn’t think my request was unreasonable and neither did the manager who initially agreed to my request. Unfortunately, another manager (not even an employee of the MoJ but one of their contractors) renege on that agreement.
Then it was:
appeal against complaint
the Prison & Probation Ombudsman
letters to the Governor at HMP Frankland
my local Hove MP who contacted the then Justice Secretary
Unbeknownst to me, the MoJ had already destroyed my recordings.
a pre-action letter of claim (which, from memory, went unanswered).
At this point, the MoJ had no costs. They could’ve entered into Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) or simply made a reasonable offer to compensate me for loss of my work and my time; but no. Despite knowing that I have no income or assets they recklessly entrenched themselves in a defensive position.
I made several more offers to enter into ADR which all went unanswered before, finally, just days before the trial but after wasting the best part of £32.000 worth of public money, they made me an offer, of just over £700. Of course, by that point, after spending the last few years on this case and 309 hours of my life (or 8.24 working weeks or 12.875 full 24 hour days), I wasn’t going to accept such a derisory offer. The time negotiating was at the start, when I offered ADR.
It seems pretty clear that their offer was made because they weren’t confident of winning; they’d already racked up massive costs so why not just go ahead with the trial. Their actions give the appearance of trying to avoid negative publicity. They would rather attempt to grind me into submission using your money than settle the claim at the start. If they’d offered £700 at the pre-action stage, I’m pretty sure we would’ve come to some sort of agreement.
I should also point out none of this would’ve happened had it not been for the manager who reneged on the original agreement. Not for the first time they have been the cause for action (which previously cost their employer £20.000).
Anyway, I have applied for permission to appeal so who knows where this is going to go. Maybe I’ll win my appeal and the MoJ will have to compensate me for the loss and pay my costs; whilst running up more publicly funded costs defending themselves in an appeal.
To end on a controversial statement: if the MoJ want me to reimburse them for their costs they can take it out of the money they owe me in lost wages for wrongfully convicting me; which, at an average wage of £20.000 per year, stands at nearly £300.000 . So, in fact, they owe me £268.000!
Be happy, be safe.
Graham Coutts, 1st September 2017