Tuesday, September 25, 2012

GLC supports Scottish Youth Parliament's One Fair Wage campaign

GLC's Mike Dailly signing the
One Fair Pledge with
John Gillies, MSYP.
The 'One Fair Wage' campaign has been set up by the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) to encourage individuals and organisations to pledge their support for a Scottish Living Wage.  SYP believes everyone in Scotland deserves to earn at least enough to live on.

The SYP believe it's obscene for people to be working whilst still trapped in poverty and that all workers - regardless of how old they are - should earn a Scottish Living wage. Govan Law Centre agrees, and applaudes the SYP for launching such a fantastic campaign.

A Scottish Living Wage can make a real difference to half a million low-paid Scots. Over the next year the Scottish Youth Parliament will call on politicians, businesses, councils and charities to pledge their support for a Scottish Living Wage.  GLC hopes you will pledge your support too. It's time for One Fair Wage.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Northern Rock drops appeal as Scottish Government promises law reform for lenders

Northern Rock (Asset Management) plc (NRAM) has asked the Court of Session to dismiss its appeal against the decision of Sheriff Deutsch in the NRAM plc v. Millar GLC test case. NRAM's appeal was dismissed on Friday, 7 September 2012 (the procedural hearing date of the case) with judicial expenses awarded in favour of the defender.

The reason given by NRAM for abandoning its appeal to the Inner House was because it had become aware the Scottish Government was now willing to bring forward law reform to amend its 2010 Pre-Action Requirements Order (PAR) so that 'default' would mean a simple missed mortgage payment. The ruling in Millar meant that key information - and a final last chance to remedy mortgage 'default' - had to be provided on or after the expiry of the calling up notice, generally served before court proceedings were raised.

It is understood* (see update below) the Scottish Government will amend the definition of 'default' in the PAR, so that there will be no need to provide key PAR information prior to proceedings being raised.

GLC's Principal Solicitor, Mike Dailly said: "We believe the Millar judgment was fantastic news for Scottish consumers because it meant they would always get an extra and final chance to avoid court proceedings after a calling-up notice.  Govan Law Centre is dismayed to hear that the Scottish Government will now scrap this final last chance for Scottish homeowners, and in so doing render the Pre-Action Requirements toothless, and in effect a duplication of the FSA's existing equivalent MCOB rule. The Scottish Government should be backing struggling homeowners and not legislating for lenders".

GLC notes that Sheriff Deutsch had eloquently explained the logic of PAR information being sent after the expiry of a calling up notice in his judgement in Millar (at paragraph 84, which is reproduced below).

The first public mention of the Scottish Government legislating for lenders was raised in an article in the industry magazine, the Mortgage Finance Gazette, where Mr Rob Aberdein of Aberdein Considine & Co., Solicitors (a Scottish firm who act for a number of lenders in repossession proceedings in Scotland) said in relation to the NRAM v Millar case:

"Should an appeal not be forthcoming or be unsuccessful then I did meet the Scottish Government at the start of the year on the matter of the impending Glasgow cases decision and have exchanged correspondence with Alex Neil MSP, the cabinet minister for infrastructure and capital investment, on the topic.  Both are supportive of corrective secondary legislation as they believe the decision is not consumer friendly and potentially damaging to their goal of avoiding repossession and resultant homelessness".

GLC is not aware of evidence whatsoever to support the assertion by Mr Aberdein, which he ascribes to the Scottish Government.  We note that lenders have already changed their practice since earlier this year to comply with the legal reasoning in Millar. Further, we note that any proposed law reform cannot be retrospective.

NRAM plc v. Millar &; RBS plc v. McConnell judgment:
[84] Regardless of whether those responsible for managing the bill which gave rise to the 2010 Act operated under a misunderstanding as to whether non-payment constituted a default for the purposes of section 19 of the 1970 Act, now that the position has been clarified, it appears to me that the required information will actually be sent to debtors at a time when, given the recent expiry of the calling up notice, they might be more inclined to pay that information some serious regard. At that point the debtor should be in no doubt that the creditor may apply to the Sheriff court for warrant to repossess and to sell the property. That level of understanding on the part of the debtor might be less likely to exist if, in accordance with the pursuers' interpretation, the default which triggers the requirement to provide information, need be no more than one month of arrears. The possibility must exist that there will be debtors with a tendency to pass in and out of an arrears position on a regular basis. One corollary of that situation might be that such persons would receive a regular stream of correspondence providing the required information. Such a volume of similar correspondence might be expected to be ignored. It might also be expensive for creditors.

* Update from 24 September 2012: Scottish Government confirms it has not made any decision to amend the 2010 Order: link to letter confirming same.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Scottish action on payday loans: update

GLC has been invited to present its Discussion Paper on proposals to help financially vulnerable Scots cope with predatory payday lending practices at a roundtable discussion in the Scottish Parliament next month.

The event is being hosted by Kezia Dugdale MSP, Shadow Youth Employment Minister on Wednesday 24 October 2012, and will bring together a wide range of national consumer, civil society and advice bodies.

GLC believes the Scottish Government can introduce a Fast Track Debt Arrangement Scheme targeted at payday loans under existing powers in the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002 as amended.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New fast track debt arrangement scheme for usury rate payday loans?

There has been an exponential growth in the UK payday loan market, with an increasing incidence of our clients in Scotland being unable to pay their rent, mortgage or utility bills due to indebtedness to exploitative payday loans. With payday loans having equvialent APRs of 3,000 to 5,000% - clearly usury, unethical and unfair - Govan Law Centre (GLC) believes the Scottish Government and Parliament must look to a solution in the public and consumer interests.

The Minister for Debt and Insolvency in Scotland, Fergus Ewing MSP, has accepted there is a problem with payday lending and has stated his belief that greater regulation is needed by Westminster. Yet, there is much the Scottish Parliament could do to help Scots struggling to meet the unfair and unsustainable costs of high interest credit.

GLC is publishing a Discussion Paper, which proposes the creation of a new sub-category of the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS), which could be designed to provide a fair but flexible form of debt relief for high interest credit only.  This would mean that instead of all debts being repaid as part of a Debt Payment Programme (DPP), the debtor would have an option of repaying payday loans in a 'mini-DAS' on a fast track basis.

Such a 'fast track' scheme could target usury rate loans by ensuring the principal sum(s) were repaid fairly within 24 months, with high interest and roll-over charges being suspended and written off following a successful repayment of the debt. Such a scheme could provide essential respite to consumers in Scotland trapped in a cycle of payday loans, enabling other priority debts to be paid, and helping citizens to take control of their financial position.  We would welcome your thoughts on this proposal: GLC Discussion Paper on a new Fast Track DAS for usury rate loans in Scotland.

Finally, we believe that the Scottish Ministers already have power from sections 7 and 7A of the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002 to introduce a Fast Track DAS for payday loans right now, without the need for primary legislation or undue delay.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Time to protect Scottish consumers against CMCs

Govan Law Centre welcomes news of additional consumer protection for customers of Claims Management Companies (CMCs) in England and Wales, but remains concerned that Scottish consumers continue to go without any legal protection in relation to CMCs providing services in Scotland.

The UK Government has announced that from next year people who are ripped off or receive a poor service from CMCs will be able to pursue a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman for England and Wales. The Ombudsman can award up to £30,000 in compensation in individual cases. CMCs are regulated by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) under the Compensation Act 2006 for services provided in England and Wales, whereas in Scotland they remain unregulated, albiet the subject matter is devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

GLC's Principal Solicitor, Mike Dailly said, "Consumer protection is being strengthened south of border in relation to poor service by CMCs – and rightly so - while Scotland remains an oasis for CMCs to do as they please.  Our unregulated market means that the people of Scotland continue to have no redress or protection against CMCs. We call on the Scottish Government to close this major gap in Scots law sooner rather than later'.

Many CMCs are well known for malpractice and ripping consumers off; including not providing customers with contracts or paperwork, not allowing cancellation of their service or refusing to allow any refunds, misleading and exaggerating their success or service during sales calls, taking payments from customers’ bank accounts or cards without authorisation, and using third parties to engage in unsolicited marketing.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Recruitment opportunity at Govan Law Centre

The Govan Law Centre Trust is seeking a Qualified Solicitor with good civil court and preferably employment tribunal experience. Experience in social security, housing, employment, equalities and administrative law would be an advantage.

The successful candidate will work within our Govanhill Law Centre (GhLC) office. GhLC is a branch office of Govan Law Centre based in Glasgow's Govanhill and serves the unmet legal needs of the wider local community, with a focus on enforcing the rights of minority ethnic communities and in particularly the Roma community. The post will involve working in partnership with a number of agencies, in particular in relation to the work with the Roma community.

Please send CV and covering letter to: Mike Dailly, Principal Solicitor at Govan Law Centre, 18-20 Orkney Street, Glasgow, G51 2BX or m @ govanlc.com. Closing date 4pm, Friday 24 August 2012. No recruitment agencies necessary thank-you. Govan Law Centre is a Registered Scottish Charity SC030193. http://www.govanlc.com/

Friday, July 27, 2012

Five nominations for GLC at Law Awards of Scotland

Govan Law Centre has received five nominations in four categories at the 2012 Law Awards of Scotland. The nominations were revealed at the Corinthian Club in Glasgow last night. GLC was nominated in the following categories:

* Law Firm of the Year (under 40 fee earners)
* Corporate Social Responsibility Firm of the Year
* Trainee Solicitor of the Year (Christine McKellar and Laura Simpson)
* Solicitor of the Year (Mike Dailly)

Govan Law Centre is delighted that its excellent team and achievements, as a campaigning community law centre, have been recognised by such a distinguished panel of independent judges.

The winners of the 2012 Law Awards of Scotland will be announced at a ceremony to be held in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow on 13 September.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Consumer challenges facing the UK's insurance industry

A link to GLC's Principal Solicitor's speech to the UK Industry Summit on Consumer Insurance Law and Regulation in London on Tuesday, 17 July 2012. Mike was speaking on behalf of the FSCP at the Infoline event, and discussed the Consumer Insurance (Disclosure and Representations) Act 2012, forthcoming law reform, the Revision to the EU Insurance Mediation Directive and various challenges the industry faced to deliver better quality, value for money and outcomes for UK consumers of insurance products.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Farepak: will the insolvency practitioner gravy train ever stop?

Over 100,000 victims of the Farepak Christmas club, which collapsed in 2006, will now receive almost 50 pence in the pound, primarily thanks to a charitable fund (17.5 pence) and a new £8m ex gratia payment from LloydsTSB (19 pence).

The work of the insolvency practitioners, BDO LLP, netted 13 pence in the pound yet their fees and outlays cost 19 pence in the pound; £8.2m - in other words they charged 60 pence to recover 40 pence.

The OFT's market study into this industry uncovered market failure in 2010. Big secured creditors, like banks, were able to exert some control over corporate insolvency practitioners (IP) fees and outlays. Yet, the OFT found in 40% of cases where unsecured small creditors were involved there was little or no oversight of IP fees and charges.

GLC's Mike Dailly speaks to BBC Radio 4's Money Box on the apparent licence that IPs have to print money, with little or no effective regulation from the UK Insolvency Service. In GLC's experience a similar problem exists in relation to IP fees and charges in the personal insolvency market.

GLC would like to see the OFT's recommendations - including an independent complaints body with real legal teeth to review IP fees and charges, and the power to impose fines - implemented.

The Insolvency Service consultation on these issue last year produced major industry opposition for any real change. Hardly surprising, when the present system represents the lightest touch of regulation for one of the most expensive and well paid industries in the world. An industry that frequently costs considerably more than it generates in recovered income.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Launch of Govanhill Law Centre's 'Unequal and unlawful treatment' research report

Tomorrow morning, Govanhill Law Centre 
(GhLC) will launch its report into the barriers faced by the Roma community in Glasgow's Govanhill when accessing welfare benefits, and the implications of section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 in relation to those barriers. 

GhLC is a project of the Govan Law Centre, and was commission by Oxfam to undertake its ' Unequal and unlawful treatment' research report through the European Commission Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity.  A copy of the report will be made available online following tomorrow's launch.

As over one third of our Govanhill clients identify themselves as Roma, we felt it was important to report and publicise the real struggles and injustices this client group routinely face. We decided to focus on the issue of welfare benefits (this is the issue the majority of our Roma clients seek our help with) and the way in which three public authorities responsible for administering benefits – Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) (Jobcentre Plus) and Glasgow City Council (Housing Benefit Department) – treat our Roma clients.

Our report is an attempt to establish whether there are recurring patterns in the treatment of Roma clients and, in particular, how these impact upon the public authorities in terms of their equalities duties under section 149 Equality Act 2010. 

The report's lead author, Lindsay Paterson, solicitor at GhLC will give a presentation on our report tomorrow morning, along with speakers from Oxfam, one of GhLC's clients who has personal experience of the barriers in accessing UK welfare rights, Romana Lav, and GLC's Principal Solicitor.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

NatWest, RBS & Ulster Bank: your rights & remedies if you've been unable to access funds

This week many customers of Natwest, RBS and Ulster Bank have been unable to access their accounts, withdraw funds, pay bills or make transactions; with banks opening their branches over the weekend to try and mitigate the damage caused by computer system failures. The following note is a brief guide to your key rights and remedies.

Your rights: The starting point is that you have a legal right to access funds in your personal current account (or business account) through 'payment instruments' (such as debit cards, online banking etc.,) provided to you by your bank. 

This right is regulated by FSA rules, the Payment Services Regulations, and the contract with your bank. In summary, this right can only be restricted by advance notice and in limited circumstances, and therefore in relation to a systems failure, the bank is prima facie responsible for any of your reasonable losses. 

If you can go into a local branch then clearly that will be the surest way to access your account, but that might not be feasible or possible for many customers, and in any event, damage might have already been incurred - so what can you do?

Your remedies: The golden rule is to 'keep all evidence' - receipts, bills, extra charges you have sustained, anything you think might be relevant - and keep a good written note of what has happened, itemising your losses and recording any significant inconvenience or distress, explaining how and why.

Clear-cut losses: There will be 'clear-cut losses', for example, where funds have not shown up in your account and direct debits have bounced with bank charges imposed - including third party creditor charges - all of these losses are directly caused by the bank's system failure, so they are liable to put you back to the position you would have been in, if this problem had never happened. In other words the bank should meet the cost of all charges, including third party charges levied for missed or late payments.

Consequential losses: Losses which are 'consequential' will require proof, and must be reasonably foreseeable and not unreasonable or remote. For example, you could not access your funds due to the bank's system failure and missed a flight or train, and ended up being charged for the hotel you booked and then had to cancel. Such consequential losses should in principle be recoverable because they are reasonably connected to the failure on the part of the bank - but you will need to keep evidence of your actual loss. 

Obtaining redress: You should log a complaint with your bank in the first instance. This can be done over the phone or in writing, and it is always best to follow things up in writing to have an evidential written record, and it may also be necessary to provide copies of receipts or bills for losses sustained (make sure you keep the originals). 

Inconvenience: If you have also sustained significant inconvenience or distress you can also claim for a monetary payment to reflect this - how much will depend upon the circumstances and the severity of the inconvenience. 

If your bank refuses to help: If after you have complained, your bank refuses to make reasonable recompense to your satisfaction you should make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service. The link provided will take you through the simple procedure which you can do yourself. Whatever you do, don't pay anyone to do this for you, and do not use a Claims Management Company - because the system is designed for consumers to do this for themselves for free. 

NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank have indicated that they will not see their customers out of pocket, so you should obtain redress for yourself.

If you need help you can always get free impartial advice from a money advice agency or CABx. If you cannot obtain redress through the Financial Ombudsman Service you may wish to consult a qualified solicitor to ascertain if there is any legal remedies available to you.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

GLC unfair bank charges update: 'phase 2'

GLC has been developing and refining new legal and factual arguments to reclaim unfair bank charges, with success following the UK banks victory before the UK Supreme Court in late 2009. 

The process has been slow and challenging, not least because all banks have sought to remit consumer claims from the small claims procedure to the ordinary court, exposing clients to the risk of significant awards of expenses. To counter this we have obtained civil legal aid to protect our clients, but that in itself was a tortuous process with the banks objecting to the granting of civil legal aid to the legal aid board.

We remain of the opinion that the ability of UK banks to push consumer small claims into the ordinary court  with an exposure to potentially unlimited expenses is not ECHR compliant. Pursing a case before the European Court of Human Rights is a slow process and two years down the line, we await to hear whether our case of Walls v. United Kingdom will have traction. 

That said, the time spent has been invaluable. The process has disclosed the multiple lines of defences through very long and detailed adjustment processes. We know the arguments and defences of the banks. We have ingathered case law, refined and adjusted our position.

The Board of GLC has agreed that we should now move to 'phase two' of our three stage strategy. This will involve, working with our partners at the Glasgow Advice Agency Ltd, raising much larger groupings of litigations on behalf of consumers in the East of Glasgow, and across the South of Glasgow.

John Owens joins GLC Board of Trustees

GLC Board, left to right: Frank McGuigan,
John Owens, Danny McColgan, Bill Pritchard
Mike Dailly, Georgina Hay, Tommy McMahon.
The Govan Law Centre Trust is delighted to announce that John Owens has joined our Board of Trustees.

John was formerly Head of Service within Glasgow City Council Social Work Adult Services Team. His responsibilities included a number of key service reform areas including Telecare.

He is a professionally qualified Social Worker, with 35 years of public service, and has a wide range of experience as a practitioner and manager in the field of Child Care; Community Care and Criminal Justice.

Throughout his career, John has worked hard to foster a partnership approach to tackling problems. Educated to Masters level he has a passion for evidenced based practice, the need to encourage research and evaluation into emerging health and social care approaches and innovation. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reid v. Clydesdale Bank plc

The case of Reid v. Clydesdale Bank plc has been settled extra-judically and no further comment will be made.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New career opportunities at Govan Law Centre

The Govan Law Centre Trust is seeking the following new people to join its award winning legal team:

Senior Solicitor with court/tribunal experience required. Experience in social security, housing, employment, equalities  or administrative law would be an advantage. The successful candidate will also be responsible for the management of funded projects within the law centre including Govanhill Law Centre. Govanhill Law Centre is a branch office of Govan Law Centre based in Govanhill with a focus on enforcing the rights of minority ethnic communities and in particularly the Roma community. The post will involve working in partnership with a number of agencies, in particular in relation to the work with the Roma community.

Solicitor for public legal education role and general casework required. The successful candidate will lead a dynamic new Public Legal Education (PLE) Project in Govanhill with a focus on empowering local citizens, community groups and residents associations to tackle property factor and landlord and tenant disputes. The PLE project is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. The post holder will also undertake some general law centre work in Govanhill, supported by the Glasgow Regeneration Agency, in partnership with Crossroads. (Fixed term post for 1 year). We would be happy to consider a job share for this post.

Trainee Solicitor required. Role is primarily in defending evictions and mortgage repossessions, with some scope for other social welfare casework.

Vulnerable Client Caseworker required for award winning Prevention of Homelessness Project. Role involves assisting the project co-ordinator in the delivery of the project. Some travel required.

Please send CV and covering letter to: Mike Dailly at Govan Law Centre, 18-20 Orkney Street, Glasgow, G51 2BX or m@govanlc.com. Closing date Friday 18 May 2012. No recruitment agencies necessary thank-you. Govan Law Centre is a Registered Scottish Charity SC030193. http://www.govanlc.com/

Friday, April 27, 2012

Banks deny customers' rights over payment cancellations

BBC Business reports that two of the UK's biggest banks have admitted denying some customers their right to cancel recurring payments.

But since 2009, banks have been legally required to cancel CPAs when a customer asks. Customers seeking to cancel continuous payment authorities (CPAs) have been told by banks such as Lloyds TSB, Bank of Scotland and Santander that only the payee can agree such action.

The new rights were enshrined in the Payment Services Regulations, which came into force in November 2009, but have been subject to ongoing discussions between the banks and the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

Mike Dailly, a consumer lawyer at the Govan Law Centre, who also sits on the FSA's Consumer Panel, told Radio 4's Money Box programme that the obligations for banks were clear. "You have the right to cancel one of these continuous payment authorities and you can go to your bank, they can't put up any hurdles," he said.

"They should have a simple procedure for you to do that. You don't have to have the permission of the payee."

Mr Dailly said he has experienced a problem when trying to help a client who banks with Bank of Scotland, also now part of the Lloyds Banking Group:
"I can think of a case of a pay-day loan company where the consumer was paying that through one of the government schemes yet the pay-day loan company is still taking money from the person's account”.
"Now that person went to the Bank of Scotland and asked for them to cancel the CPA and they said 'You can't do it. You need to get the permission of the pay-day loan company.' Now, that's wrong in law."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

International report recognises GLC prevention of homeless work in Glasgow

Govan Law Centre’s award winning prevention of Homelessness Partnership section 11 project is highlighted in a new international report published this week reporting on tenancy sustainment programmes.

The report by Chris Povey of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Of Australia, entitled ‘Investigating tenancy sustainment programs and approaches in relation to clients at risk of homelessness’, describes Chris’ Homeless Persons Legal Clinic based in Victoria. The report also considers and focuses on work being undertaken in Glasgow as well as in Edinburgh, the North of England, New York, Washington and Toronto.

In Glasgow the report highlights our approach to homelessness prevention which delivers prevention in a unique way.

The report considers how our project developed ground-breaking and innovative approaches to preventing homelessness in Glasgow, in particular, the dedicated ongoing coordinated approach is described in the report “as the lynchpin” to the success of our homelessness prevention work.

Alistair Sharp, senior project manager at GLC said: “For Govan Law Centre’s prevention of homelessness partnership s11 project to be considered in such a high profile international report is testimony to the hard work of GLC and all of the partners involved, and is fantastic recognition of our partnership working and model of early intervention to prevent homelessness and homelessness prevention in Glasgow”

The Prevention of Homelessness Partnership Project was set up in 2005 by Govan Law Centre, Govan Money Matters Advice Centre and the South West Community Health and Care Partnership (SW CHCP) to pilot s11 of the Homelessness etc., (Scotland) Act 2003.

The s11 Project was set up to achieve, and tasked with, halting repossession and evictions and preventing homelessness through the provision of high quality legal representation, money and benefits advice and access to specialised support services and specialised dedicated coordination of support services. It has prevented over 2000 people and their families from being made homeless. The project was awarded the Scottish Social Services Council Accolade for Partnership Working in Adult Care in 2010.

The full report is available here; and Govan Law Centre’s Prevention of Homelessness Partnership can be found at page 49 et seq.,.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Decree for repossession refused in Glasgow civil trial and expenses awarded against lender

Decree for the ejection of an East End Glasgow woman from her property and the repossession of her home was refused at Glasgow Sheriff Court yesterday following an evidential hearing (known as a 'proof' in Scots civil law).

Most of the defender's mortgage was being now paid by the Department of Works and Pensions albiet there was a small shortfall and the lender, Platform Funding Ltd (an intermediary lender of the Co-operative Bank plc) argued that it did not believe the mortgagor could sustain her mortgage.

Platform Funding Ltd argued in court that the defender had not personally made any payments to her mortgage since 2010 and that as the action had been in court for two years they were entitled to decree for possession.

After hearing the evidence in the case and adjourning to consider the matter, and legal submissions, Sheriff Gilchrist refused the lender's request for decree notwithstanding it would take six and half years for the defender to repay her mortgage arrears.

The court followed the landmark English Court of Appeal decision in Cheltenham and Gloucester Buliding Society v. Norgan [1996] 1 All ER 449, which was persuasive authority in Scotland to the proposition that the starting point for determining a 'reasonable period' to clear arrears was the remaining term of the mortgage, which in this case was 9.5 years.

The court awarded ordinary cause level Sheriff Court expenses against Platform Funding Ltd for the cost of the proof, and suspended the lender's enforcement powers and continued the cause for six months to monitor payments to arrears. 

The defender was represented by Govan Law Centre's Mike Dailly, and the pursuer was represented by Ms Malone of Morisons LLP Solicitors.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cuts to Home Owners' Support Scheme will create needless homelessness across Scotland

Govan Law Centre is very concerned to learn that the Scottish Government will reduce its funding to the very successful Home Owners' Support Fund (HOSF, which includes the Mortgage to Rent Scheme) by a massive 46% or £8.5m from April 1 2012, for the year 2012/13.

The HOSF had funding of £18.5m in 2011/12, but without any apparent public consultation the Scottish Government has decided to slash this budget to £10m for the financial year 2012/13.

GLC's Principal Solicitor Mike Dailly said:
"The Mortgage to Rent Scheme has been a great Scottish success story where demand massively outstrips supply. Often it is the only safety net for vulnerable homeowners facing repossession and homelessness, and without access to it, we are deeply concerned that many Scots are going to become homeless needlessly. Homelessness is a traumatic and terrifying prospect for families, and we should be extending this fantastic scheme in these tough times not cutting it. We hope the Scottish Government will think again on this cut".

"The Scottish Government had made access to the scheme much harder by tightening the eligibility rules in March 2009 and from next month those rules will be tightened once again - especially for bankrupt applicants. Govan Law Centre believes the Home Owner Support Fund is a huge Scottish success story which enables families to keep their homes by becoming a tenant instead of an owner. The scheme needs to be made more available to vulnerable Scots as a core part of Scotland's prevention of homelessness and housing policy and strategy. It is tried and tested. It works".

"Cutting the scheme's funding by almost 50% is the equivalent of taking a life ring from a drowning man or women".

The Mortgage to Rent (now part of the HOSF) scheme was introduced in Scotland in February 2003: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/254517/0075356.pdf

The equivalent Mortgage Rescue Scheme was introduced in June 2008 in Wales and January 2009 in England: http://www.housingrepossessions.co.uk/mortgage-rescue-scheme.html

Details of the HOSF are available here: www.scotland.gov.uk/hosf

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Unfair bank charges update from GLC

GLC has settled a claim in full for the refund for overdraft charges with Santander UK plc. The claim was settled extra-judicially after proceedings had been raised utlising new legal and factual arguments.

Some of these arguments (but not all) are scheduled to be tested in the cases of Reid v. Clydesdale Bank plc, and Sharp v. Bank of Scotland plc. 

A debate will take at Glasgow Sheriff Court on 2 April 2012 in the case of Reid v. Clydesdale Bank plc, with GLC's Mike Dailly appearing for the pursuer, and Clydesdale's in-house legal team and counsel appearing for the defender.

The case of Sharp v. Bank of Scotland awaits a fresh hearing date.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

GLC rings alarm over growing mis-selling of consumer credit products across the UK

With around £9bn of Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) mis-sold to UK consumers the issue of the mis-selling of financial products is big consumer news; yet the potential for the mis-selling of consumer credit products - particulary pay day loans and second charge mortgages regulated under the Consumer Credit Act - is relatively new and unchartered waters.

Govan Law Centre believes alarm bells should be ringing over the growing potential for mass mis-selling in the UK consumer credit market, with the growth of aggressive pay day lending and the ongoing mis-selling of expensive home secured loans. Changes introduced by the 2006 Consumer Credit Act have opened new gateways for consumer redress in law and through the independent Financial Ombudsman Service.

GLC todays publishes a 'think piece' paper which discusses the scope and possibility for consumer redress in relation to mis-sold and unfair consumer credit products in the UK. The paper is available here. Thoughts and comments are welcome and can be made below.

Monday, February 6, 2012

GLC secure unsecured loan write-off using CCA

In RBS plc v. Ahmed, a creditor sought to recover payment under a unsecured loan agreement for a sum just under £2,500, together with its legal expenses, which would have been on the undefended summary cause scale, at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

GLC had defended the action upon the basis the statement of claim was lacking in specification, and was irrelevant on a number of grounds, including failing to indicate whether a default notice under section 87 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (CCA) had been properly served prior to proceedings being raised.

RBS agreed to dismiss the action with expenses at 10% of the sum sued in favour of the defender, together with an undertaking to write off the debt under the loan agreement. The case serves to illustrate the importance of advisers always checking court documents for payment, as opposed to taking the debt and charges as stated as being necessarily due at the level claimed, or being lawfully due.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Further hearing in Scottish repossession test cases on pre-action requirements

The court has appointed parties be heard further in the Scottish repossession test cases of RBS plc v. McConnell and NRAM plc v. Millar next week. Sheriff AF Deutsch has given parties an opportunity to be heard on a new point in relation to the Interpretation Act 1978.

Since the Scottish Government's Home Owner and Debtor Protection (Scotland) Act 2010, a lender must now give certain information to a debtor upon entering into 'default' before a repossession action is raised in court. This is known as the 'pre-action requirement' and failure to comply with this requirement can render the court action incompetent.

Many lenders and law firms in Scotland have interpreted 'default' to mean merely a failure to pay sums due under a mortgage, whereas Govan Law Centre has argued that 'default' is a technical term which means the failure to comply with a calling-up notice.

The cases of RBS plc v. McConnell and NRAM plc v. Millar look set to provide clarity on this point. Many repossession actions across Scotland have been continued or sisted (stayed) pending the court's judgment in these cases.