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LISA MARIA ANGELA FERGUSON v BRITISH GAS TRADING LTD

It was, at the very least, strongly arguable that British Gas's conduct in repeatedly sending a former customer unjustified bills and threatening letters was of sufficient gravity to constitute harassment in breach of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

24 February 2009

The appellant company (B) appealed against a decision refusing to strike out a claim brought against it by the respondent (F) for damages for unlawful harassment. F used to be a customer of B's, but when she switched to another company, B sent her several bills which she claimed were unjustified. She received letters threatening to cut off her gas supply, to start legal proceedings against her, and to report her to credit rating agencies. She contacted B several times by letter and by phone, but the bills and threats continued. F claimed that B's course of conduct amounted to unlawful harassment contrary to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. B argued that (1) the conduct in question was not enough to amount to harassment. Since harassment was both a civil wrong and a crime, the impugned conduct had to be rather serious; otherwise, merely annoying or aggravating matters of everyday life would be criminalised, which could not have been the intention of Parliament. F knew the cla...

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