The Post Office & Horizon Scandal & Settlement Agreements Explained

The Post Office and Horizon scandal took place between 1999 and 2015. It involved over 900 sub-postmasters and postmistresses who were prosecuted for theft of post office money due to incorrect information and data being provided by a computer system created by Fujitsu, which was put in place by the Post Office, namely Horizon. The Post Office itself brought many of the 900 plus cases to court, and between 1999 and 2015, it prosecuted 700 people – an average of one person a week.

The UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, proposed a new law that would exonerate victims of the scandal. Although this new legislation is yet to be published and the timeline for it is still unclear, the Post Office workers who were part of the group litigation in 2019 should be instantly eligible for an upfront payment of £75,000.

The impact and outcome of the scandal

The scandal had a heavy impact on the former sub-postmasters and postmistresses, with many claiming that it ruined their lives. A lot of them had to use their own money to cover non-existent shortfalls, which led to bankruptcies, debt and the loss of livelihoods in some cases. In addition to this, some of their marriages broke down, their mental health suffered and, unfortunately in some cases, premature death occurred.

Wrongful imprisonment was also a major consequence of the scandal, with Parmod Kalia falsely accused of pocketing more than £20,000 and given a six-month jail sentence in 2001. It wasn’t until 2021 that the conviction was overturned.

Another example is Seema Mistra. The English postal worker, who was 8 months pregnant at the time, was falsely imprisoned for 15 months for fraud in 2010. Her convictions were not quashed until 2021.

Since the scandal came to light, Downing Street said it would work with the rest of the UK to ensure that those wrongly accused would have their names cleared. This included a form that could be signed to say they are innocent, so that convictions could be overturned and compensation could be claimed through settlement agreements with the Post Office.

The Settlement Agreement Process

Of the 983 convictions from the scandal, 700 were privately initiated by the Post Office. Those who were wrongly accused and have had their convictions quashed can apply to the Overturned Convictions Scheme in order to claim compensation via a settlement agreement.

A settlement agreement is a legally binding contract with agreed-upon terms between a company and a party.   

Just under 100 people have seen their convictions overturned by the courts as of December 2023. Hundreds of more people will also be eligible to get convictions overturned once the Government’s promised overturning law becomes a reality. However, there is no timescale on this yet.

Those who have had convictions overturned can opt to take a £600,000 fast-tracked settlement, or they can enter a longer process if they feel as though they are entitled to more. Either way, all eligible people will be entitled to a payment of £163,000 while their final settlement agreement process takes place. As of January 2024, over £34 million has been paid in compensation to victims of the scandal. 

If you believe you are a victim of this scandal and require legal advice in relation to any settlement agreement you have been offered or wish to apply for, make sure to get in touch with our settlement agreement solicitors today.

Black Norman’s Settlement Agreement solicitors

At Black Norman, our settlement agreement solicitors are experienced in all aspects of the process to make it easier for you to reach an agreement that works for you. Our solicitors also offer a range of other services, including Wills, Court of Protection and Lasting Powers of Attorney.

Get in touch with our settlement agreement solicitors today if you wish to progress with receiving compensation for a work dispute where you believe you are entitled to a payout. 

Our expert team is on hand to help those looking to have a settlement agreement in place or want settlement agreement help within the Liverpool area and across the UK.