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Justice Delivered – Post Office Settles Class Action Claim

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One of the UK’s largest class action claims has recently settled after three years of legal argument and rancour. The parties in the Bates v Post Office group litigation announced in early December that the claim has been settled, with the Post Office admitting “we got things wrong in our dealings with a number of postmasters”.

A joint statement issued by both parties said that several days of ‘respectful, challenging, and ultimately successful mediation’ had successfully concluded in a ‘comprehensive resolution’ to the litigation’. The mediation was championed by Post Office CEO Nick Read, with the claim being settled for £57.75m. The statement also made clear the Post Office’s gratitude to the claimants, saying that and ‘in the past, we have fallen short and we apologise to those affected’. Commenting further on the mediated settlement, Read added:

I am very pleased we have been able to find a resolution to this longstanding dispute. Our business needs to take on board some important lessons about the way we work with postmasters, and I am determined that it will do so…We are committed to a reset in our relationship with postmasters, placing them alongside our customers at the centre of our business. As we agree to close this difficult chapter, we look forward to continuing the hard work ahead of us in shaping a modern and dynamic Post Office, serving customers in a genuine commercial partnership with postmasters, for the benefit of communities across the UK.”

The settlement is separate from an additional action – commonly referred to as the ‘Horizon Trial’, where the The Post Office was accused of blaming sub postmasters for alleged shortfalls in branch accounts since the roll out of a computer system called Horizon. Judgement in this case will be announced shortly.

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