Winning Lottery syndicate row over members who didn't pay

Euromillions ticket

Winning £1 million on the lottery sounds like a dream come true, but for yet another syndicate it has descended into a nightmarish row over how to divide the spoils. The syndicate in question was a group of co-workers from the DVLA in Morriston, Swansea.

The row has erupted after it emerged that three members had failed to pay their subscriptions that week.

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The row

The Daily Mail reported that the 16-person syndicate won £1 million in last Friday's EuroMillions draw. Divided equally between them, that would work out at £62,500. However, the newspaper claims that the group has fallen out over three members who had not paid their subscriptions that week. If they were excluded it would mean an extra £14,423 for the other members.

A syndicate member told The Sun: "The win has gone a bit sour though as there are three people who the others say haven't paid for their tickets. It's all a bit awkward and there's a bad atmosphere - it's terrible how people can turn so nasty when a bit of money is involved."

The National Lottery has not commented, as the group has not decided to go public about the win. However, Camelot is said to be mediating, and a vote is expected.

The problem is that the group doesn't have a syndicate agreement, so there are no rules to follow in circumstances like this.

Risks

This isn't the first syndicate to have fallen apart after a win. We reported in February on the syndicate at a hair salon in Indiana which had fallen out over a win of $9.5 million. The stylist who bought the ticket claimed that it was a separate ticket, bought at the same time for her alone, which had won, but the syndicate claimed this was against their rules - and that they had an agreement that in an event like this the ticket should be counted as belonging to them all.

Then there was the battle last year between a group of New Jersey construction workers, over a $24 million winning ticket that one member said he'd bought for himself. A judge eventually decided he had to share the payout.

There have been battles closer to home too - including the syndicate in Ireland which ended up in the High Court a few years ago, being forced to pay a fifth share of the win to a member who had failed to pay that week.

Protect yourself

Syndicates are fraught with danger. After-all, technically the person who buys the ticket is the legal owner of it. Without an agreement, they could walk away with the lot. It makes it quite concerning that a shocking 79% of all syndicates have no written agreement to protect the members.

The National Lottery says that in order for a syndicate to work properly, it needs rules to be drawn up carefully, and for every member to sign up to them - alongside an independent witness. They need to include details of the members, what they contribute each week, and the share of any win.

They also need to agree the games they will play and the numbers they will use, arrangements that will be made if someone doesn't contribute one week, and what happens if someone wants to leave.

They should highlight what should happen if the person buying the ticket also buys one for themselves at the same time, and any separate arrangements.

Members then need to stick rigidly to the rules - with no exceptions. The minute they deviate from the agreement it won't be worth the paper it is written on.

However, there are always happy exceptions to the rule. The Newton family from Dartford in Kent scooped just under £8 million in 2009, and despite the fact that all three of their adult children had regularly dodged paying their share, parents Ted and Marilyn Newton agreed to share it equally (on the condition each child paid their dad £1,000 to make up for their missed subscriptions).

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Winning Lottery syndicate row over members who didn't pay

The law states that any goods you buy from a UK retailer should be of satisfactory quality, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable amount of time.

This applies even if you buy items in a sale or with a discount voucher. You may have to insist on these rights being respected, though.

Useful phrases to use when you want to show you mean business include, "according to the Sale of Goods Act 1979" and, if it's a service, "according to the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982".

Some shops will allow you to exchange goods without a receipt, but they can refuse to should they wish.

If the goods are faulty, however, another proof of purchase such as a bank statement should work just as well.

If you attempt to return goods within four weeks of the purchase, your chances of getting a full refund are much higher as you can argue that you have not "accepted" them.

After this point, you can only really expect an exchange, repair or part-refund.

The updated Consumer Credit Act states that card companies are jointly and severally liable for credit card purchases of between £100 and £60,260 (whether or not you paid just a deposit or the whole amount on your card).

Anyone spending between these amounts on their credit card is therefore protected if the retailer or service provider goes bust, their online shopping never arrives or the items in question are faulty or not as described.

Start by writing to the agency asking it to either remove or change the entry that you think is wrong. It will investigate the matter and find out whether you have been the victim of ID theft or a bank's mistake.

Within 28 days from receipt of your letter the agency should tell you how the bank has responded. If the bank agrees to change the entry, they will authorise the agency to update their records. They should also send updates to any other credit reference agencies they use.

You can also contact your lender directly to query a mistake. If the lender agrees to the discrepancy, ask them to confirm this in writing on their letterhead and send a copy to the agency, asking them to update your file.

The FOS settles disputes between financial companies such as banks and consumers.

If a financial organisation rejects a complaint you make about its services, you can therefore escalate that complaint to the FOS - as long as you have given the company in question at least eight weeks to respond.

The FOS will then investigate the case, and could force the company to offer you compensation should it see fit.

Bailiffs are allowed to take some of your belongings to sell on to cover certain debts, including unpaid Council Tax and parking fines.

They can, for example, take so-called luxury items such as TVs or games consoles. However, they cannot take essentials such as fridges or clothes.

What's more, they can only generally enter your home to take your stuff if you leave a door or window open or invite them in.

You are therefore within your rights to refuse them access and to ask for related documents such as proof of their identity. If they try to force their way in, you can also call the police to stop them.

Private sector debt collectors do not have the same powers as bailiffs, whatever they tell you.

They cannot, for example, enter your home and take your possessions in lieu of payment.

In fact, they can only write, phone, or visit your home to talk to you about paying back the debt. As with bailiffs, you can also call the police if you feel physically threatened.

Thanks to the Distance Selling Regulations, you actually have more rights buying online or by phone than on the High Street.

You can, for example, send most goods back within a week, for a full refund (including outward delivery costs), even if there's no fault.

You will usually need to pay for the return delivery, though. The seller must then refund you within 30 days.

We enter into contracts all the time, whether it be to join a gym, switch energy supplier or take out a loan.

In most cases, once you've signed a contract, you are legally bound by it. In some situations, however, you have the right to cancel it within a certain timeframe.

Credit agreements, for example, can be cancelled within 14 days. And online retailers must tell you about your cancellation rights for any contract made up to stand up legally.

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