A visitor to this site, Ron, kindly agreed for his views on the legislation to be posted here on the site.
Of course, for his protection and mine, the following information is a personal opinion, and should not be taken or followed as legal advice. It is your liability for any use of this information, and I suggest you seek your own information from a qualified legal professional. Blah blah.
In reference to the legislation here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/26/notes/division/4/5
“As you correctly say in the “About” section –
“(3)A person commits an offence if, intending to act to a person’s detriment AND without reasonable excuse, he opens a postal packet which he knows or reasonably suspects has been incorrectly delivered to him“
On the other hand:
(1) If it has been delivered to the address on the envelope, how can it have been “INcorrectly delivered”?
(2) How can it be to the sender’s “detriment”, to try to prevent them from wasting money on postage?
(3) Is it not a “reasonable excuse“, that one wants the letters actually to go to the stated recipient?
(4) Although it might, in a sense, actually be to the detriment of the addressee, that dunning letters should catch up with him/her, one should be able to show that such detriment was not “intended“.
(5) The “reasonable excuse” kicks in if letters continue arriving for that person in spite of earlier ones having been re-posted “return to sender – not known at this address”.
(6) Back to dunning letters: These would sometimes escalate to notice of sending in a bailiff to remove (“distrain”) goods. Would it be to the sender’s detriment that they will now unable to seize goods at your address? Or to their advantage that you are preventing them from getting prosecuted for theft of your goods?
(7) Apparently because of an error in the MPN (meter point number), an energy supplier (which we weren’t even using!) was going to cut off the electricity at my house, following extended series of letters (the first several of which were returned “R.T.S.”) to a Mr [omitted], who we can prove had never lived here – and we know he hadn’t even visited within the immediately-previous 20 years.
Since we’d have been on holiday at the intended period, there’d have been nobody to prevent them from breaking into our house during our absence, to carry out this task! The energy regulator ordered them to apologise to us – and that letter added insult to injury: simply saying “Dear Mr [omitted], We are sorry to lose you as a customer …” and with NO MENTION of their harassment etc!
Even 10 years or so later, I still feel very strongly about this one!
(8) You have just received several letters, and – on autopilot until you start reading – you simply open them all, without trying to read the details of the address panel. Surely that is “reasonable excuse” AND WITHOUT “intending … detriment“!
(9) At my previous address: The previous owner’s mortgage lender continued sending statements to the same address, having failed to update their records. The first one I forwarded to the new address. The second one I returned “R.T.S.”. The third one I “accidentally” opened, then handed it in at the nearby branch; the staff were horrified at this breach BY THEM of data protection, even a couple of decades before our original Data Protection Act.
(10) If, as is often the case, there is no visible sender name and either no return name or a code (such as LBG), won’t a submission to you “fall by the wayside” as per
because of a “need to know the Sender and Contents” ?
(11) Sometimes the return address is a mailout centre with several clients (and no identifying code in the return address); then there’s nothing for it but to open, destroy, chuck, or keep forever! And, of these, I think the first is the “least worst”!
As for the “Data Protection [GDPR] implications”, I think you’ll find that close reading shows the responsibilty for this is with the “data controller”, “data processor”, etc. – i.e. those involved in the sending process and what leads up to it.”
– Thank you Ron! As you have highlighted, there are some subjective conditions thrown into the wording of the legislation.
Now, I wonder if there is any case law (meaning, where this piece of legislation has been tried and determined in Court) for us to hear the Court’s view on it?! Links welcome please!