Post Office said today (23 March 2020) that because of the current Covid-19 outbreak, today’s planned launch of a scheme to independently assess applications from current and former postmasters who believe they have experienced shortfalls related to previous versions of its computer system Horizon is being postponed.
A Post Office spokesman said:
“The Historical Shortfall Scheme was due to open for applications today. However, our immediate focus is to prioritise support for our postmasters through the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis. Some postmasters are self-isolating as a precaution. Many other postmasters are busy implementing plans to keep their Post Office open with appropriate social distancing measures in place so that vital community services, including access to cash, can continue throughout the UK.
“We will keep the situation with Coronavirus (COVID-19) under close review and currently plan to open the scheme on Friday 1 May 2020. We are planning widespread advertising, as well as direct communications to both current and former postmasters when the scheme goes live.”
The scheme follows the agreed joint settlement last year of group litigation between Post Office and 555 mainly former postmasters. During the Court proceedings the current version of Horizon, an electronic point of sale system, was found to be robust relative to comparable systems, but the Court highlighted issues regarding previous versions that had the potential to affect branch accounting.
Note to editors:
The principles and scope of the historical shortfall scheme have been endorsed by the mediators who helped to negotiate the settlement of the group litigation between Post Office and 555 mainly former postmasters who reached agreement in December 2019.
As part of the proceedings, the Court determined a number of generic, technical matters concerning historic Horizon systems used since around 2000. It did not determine individual cases.
A joint press statement was issued on 11 December 2019 by both parties involved in the litigation.
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