Dealing with shoplifters and dishonest employees is just one of the problems that a retailer faces occasionally. Fortunately, victims of shoplifting or employee theft can gain monetary remuneration through the process of civil recovery.
How the process works
With the help of civil recovery, a retailer may use the civil courts to recover the cash or the equivalent value of the goods stolen from their store. This action could take the form of a letter sent to the offending party to seek compensation. Generally, the intent of such letter is to intimidate the offender into paying. If no compensation is given, the retailer can take legal action to recover the value.
To recover their losses, the retailer must prove the incidence of theft and the amount of losses. If the retailer fails to prove these, the claim will also fail.
A method for bullying
There are many instances when the process is abused, though. Some retailers along, with legal agencies, would send letters with the intention of bullying defenceless and innocent people into paying sums of money. Most letters even demand fixed sums as compensation, a practice that has no legal basis. This prompted the Solicitors Regulation Authority to issue a warning to lawyers who are acting in civil recovery claims not to “diminish public trust in the profession.”
Applicable only for persistent criminal activity
The SRA warning came as a result of a report by the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) regarding the actions of some lawyers and related agencies that are handling civil recovery claims. They are reportedly employing under handed tactics to demand payments from alleged shoplifters.
According to the CAB, civil recovery should not be applicable to one-off minor crimes. It should apply only to “serious, determined or persistent criminal activity” for which a criminal conviction had been reached.
You can protect yourself from unfair civil recovery claims. If you’re a recipient of a demand letter, contact a reliable solicitor who specialises in civil recovery claims to discuss the actions that you can take.