In court against Capita tomorrow! Wish me luck…

Exposing the liability shell game of the BBC and their agents

I will be in Darlington County Court tomorrow at 10am to defend against the set aside motion of Capita Business Services Ltd for my £5k default judgment against TV Licensing, a.k.a. the British Broadcasting Corporation. Capita have no standing, since they are an agent of the BBC, and my aim is to expose their shell game that assigns the revenues to the BBC while Capita take the reputation liabilities.

I previously wrote to the BBC with a series of questions, and I have obtained the following response. It’s nearly 11pm, and I have only just finished preparing my document bundles and need some rest, so I hope you don’t mind me presenting it with minimal commentary.

Dear Mr Geddes

Our letter of 13 March explained why we would not comply with your purported request under Part 18 of the Civil Procedure Rules. By a letter of today’s date we have responded to your FOI request. However, in both letters we stated that we would respond under separate cover, so far as appropriate, to the substance of your questions. That is the purpose of this letter.

The basis of our response is that the BBC is, by statute, the licensing authority for TV licences: see Part 4 of the Communications Act 2003, especially s.364. You refer to the BBC “trading”, but we would point out that, in its capacity as licensing authority, the BBC is carrying out a public function and is not “trading” in a commercial sense.

If you use a trade mark, and are a corporation, and asking for money for a service, then it is self-evident that you are trading.

A number of organisations provide services under contract for the BBC in the performance of that function. The main contractor is Capita Business Services Ltd, which carries out most of the public-facing administration of the TV licences system, including communication with households, collecting the licence fees, carrying out enforcement visits and prosecuting TV Licence evasion on behalf of the BBC. We confirm that “Television Licensing” is a trademark wholly owned by the BBC, and that the BBC, Capita and other contractors are entitled to use it in connection with this function. We regard the BBC as the principal and Capita as our agent. [MG Emphasis.]

This is the critical part: if the BBC are the principal, then as agent Capita have no standing to request to be the defendant, or to interfere in any way. “TV Licensing” is the BBC, and nobody else.

Revenue paid to “TV Licensing” is collected by Capita for the BBC as licensing authority, but please note that it is not the BBC’s money. It is paid by Capita on behalf of the BBC to the UK Government (the UK Consolidated Fund). It is then for the Government to decide how much of the revenue is granted back to the BBC: Communications Act 2003 s.365(7) and BBC Framework Agreement, clause 49.

Elon is right — state-funded media! 🙂

With reference to questions 5 to 7, both Capita and the BBC have been the subject of legal claims in respect of “TV Licensing” activities. It depends on the circumstances which should be the defendant to such claims. For example, a claim challenging TV Licensing policies might best be brought against the BBC, while a matter arising out of the actions of an individual member of Capita staff might potentially be brought against Capita. We don’t understand question 8, or what “commercial activities” you believe are carried out under the TV Licensing trade mark.

So more confirmation — Capita have no standing in this case, as it is a policy issue.

Standard (or “bulk”) correspondence from TV Licensing is approved by the BBC. The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015 do not apply to the BBC because it is incorporated by Royal Charter and so is not as “company” for the purposes of the Companies Act 2006. Nor is it brought within the scope of those Regulations by the Unregistered Companies Regulations 2009, because it does not “have as its object the acquisition of gain by the company or its individual members”: 2009 Regulations, reg.2(a) and s.1043(1) of the CA 2006. We do not consider that the obligations in the 2015 Regulations as to correspondence apply to Capita when acting as the BBC’s agent.

Again, for Capita to be the defendant, they would have had to reveal themselves as such previously, and they have not.

We don’t understand what question 16 is seeking to ascertain. Correspondence sent to TV Licensing, Darlington, DL98 1TL is received at that address by Capita. How it is treated would depend on its nature and all the circumstances. Such correspondence would, if appropriate, be treated as correspondence directed to the BBC as licensing authority. It would not, however, necessarily be passed to the BBC, as day-to-day correspondence would normally be handled and responded to by Capita as the BBC’s agent.

So I wrote to the BBC. The BBC is the defendant.

I hope you find this response helpful.

Yours sincerely
Jess Stirling
Lawyer, Information Rights
BBC Legal

I sure did!

Now, here is my skeleton argument for tomorrow:

1 The Claimant, Mr Martin Geddes gained a default judgment against TV Licensing.

2 “TV Licensing” in this case is the BBC, who are the correct defendant because they themselves state they are principal and should be treated as the defendant in such cases. (Exhibit A.)

3 Additional research and supporting documentation conclusively demonstrates Capita are an agent of the BBC, hence not the defendant. (Exhibit B.)

4 Applicant Capita Business Services Ltd have no standing in the matter because they are a totally separate entity from the defendant and are acting as an interloper.

5 Mr Geddes wrote to Capita on 22nd March pointing out they have no standing and inviting them to withdraw, served via email and post. (Exhibit C.)

6 They have failed to respond, and therefore by acquiescence I assume that they agree they have no standing and are unable to prove the same.

7 Granting the set-aside to Capita would make them a data controller under the Data Protection Act 2018, and violates GDPR, and supports them in deceptively providing the BBC with an unlawful liability shield against the public interest.

8 Even if they had standing, their case should be dismissed because their grounds are not credible, and they have made false and misleading statements to the court.

Mr Geddes requests that the set aside application is struck out and that costs are awarded in full under CPR Part 27.14 (2) g, unreasonable conduct.

Wish me well! And thank you for everyone who has financially supported me via Substack or other means. This all takes a lot of work and time, so I can only do it because you back me in holding these powerful entities to account.