Property118 Members vs West Bromwich Mortgage Company

Property118 Members vs West Bromwich Mortgage Company

10:25 AM, 3rd March 2014, About 8 years ago

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UPDATE – 31st March 2014

Since publishing this article our campaign has raised over £450,000 and legal action has now commenced. The official closing date for borrowers to be represented in this action was 28th March 2014. However, it may still be possible to be included in the representative action by paying additional fees to cover administration and Court fees to be added to the list of represented claimants. For further details please Contact Carla Morris-Papps at Cotswold Barristers – telephone 01242 639 454 or email carla@cotswoldbarristers.co.uk

West Brom Tracker Mortgages

Property118 Members vs West Bromwich Mortgage Company

Property118 Members vs West Bromwich Mortgage Company

Borrowers representing 84 mortgage accounts affected by the West Bromwich Mortgage Company 1.9% rake hike to their tracker rate mortgage margins attended a secret meeting of paid up campaign members on 27th February 2014. At that meeting it was confirmed that 420 affected mortgages are currently represented by the campaign group.

Property118 had previously created a secure forum for paid up members of the group to discuss various legal strategies, one of which was a proposal to West Brom to consider arbitration as an alternative to Court action. Each member had paid £240 for each affected mortgage plus a contribution to a campaign marketing campaign.

Arbitration was proposed for tactical legal reasons which were explained by the groups advisers, some details of which must remain confidential for legal reasons.

This would have been significantly quicker and cheaper for all concerned and had massive upsides to West Brom in that the outcome would be confidential. In other words, if West Brom had lost the case, nobody would have “officially” known about it other than those who had already paid to be a member of the campaign group. This would have meant the worst case scenario for West Brom would be losing no more than 10% of their reported £19 million of additional annual profits from this rate hike.

West Brom refused!

This refusal now plays very nicely into our hands for litigation purposes as it will be frowned upon by the Courts, especially if we lose our case and end up having to pay costs associated with the David and Goliath battle. 😉

The attendees of the meeting voted unanimously to proceed immediately with litigation on the basis proposed by (Mark Smith – Barrister-At-Law) as explained below. Thanks were offered to Justin Selig and his team at The Law Department for his sterling work to date in helping us get to this position. Without their help our campaign may never have got this far.

Litigation will commence during the week of 31st March 2014 with the service of Court Papers. This provides a final opportunity for any remaining affected borrowers to commit to the action by Friday 28th March.

We already have more than double the necessary funds on account to pay our own legal team. Mark Smith has agreed to represent borrowers for a fixed fee of £120 + VAT per affected mortgage subject to there being at least 250 borrowers committed. Further details in his Terms of Business and Instruction letter which can be downloaded by completing the form at the bottom of this page.

Existing campaign members are also reminded that they MUST complete and return the instruction form  to Mark Smith to act for them and the required additional funds by 28th March 2014.

The deadline for submission of instructions has now expired, sorry.

Costs Funding

The primary concern of existing members that had to be overcome was their potentially unlimited liability to the West Brom’s legal costs in the event of losing the case and the “open cheque book” often associated with legal cases. It was agreed that all fears could be overcome by creating a fund to be held in a BARCO escrow account (BARCO is the Bar Council – the regulators of Barristers). This account will provide evidence to the Courts that we have sufficient funds on account to settle the other sides costs in the event of losing the case and having an adverse costs order awarded against the group.

The first step of the legal action will be a costs hearing, as part of a “Case Management Conference”. This is where both sides must submit their costs budgets for the case to the judge and where the judge decides upon reasonableness. If either side fails to do this then the maximum they can claim for costs against the other side is the Court fee, i.e. £175! It is extremely rare for judges to award costs in excess of the agreed costs budget.

Our estimate is that based on the number of affected mortgages being represented, and the possibility of more people now wishing to be represented at this stage, the BARCO account could contain as much as double the other sides costs budget. This is why we are so confident about costs not exceeding the amount of funds that will be held in escrow. In the extremely unlikely event of the groups funds being insufficient to meet a potential costs order the group would have an opportunity to withdraw their case and settle the other sides costs to date.

If/when we win, the contents of the BARCO account will be rolled over to deal with all of the costs associated with the inevitable appeal case and if/when that is won the funds will be returned to members. If we lose, the contents of the escrow account will be used to pay costs awarded to West Brom and the balance of funds will be returned pro-rata to members.

The case will be fought on the basis of a representative action. This means that the ruling of the Courts will only apply to those borrowers who have paid to be represented in the case. There will be no free rides!

We fully appreciate that some affected borrowers will not be able to raise the necessary funds in time to be part of this action so there is a Plan B. Affected borrowers who are not represented may have another opportunity to make claims in a few years time. In the meantime they will continue to pay the higher rate and will probably be expected to forfeit any refund of overpayments in return for a no-win-no-fee arrangement. This could be a far more expensive option, hence the reason why so many affected borrowers are so keen to be part of the imminent legal action.

The legal strategy and process we are undertaking will be a very simple one. There will be no witnesses called so there will be no surprise twists such as those often seen on TV where a new witness or new evidence appears at the last minute. On this basis, we anticipate the case, including any appeal, to be concluded before Christmas.

We will only be asking the Courts to rule on two things:-

1) Based on the documentation produced by West Brom, do they have the right to increase the tracker margin?

2) Based on the documentation produced by West Brom, do they have the right to call in loans within 28 days without the borrower being in default?

There has been lots of discussion about whether West Brom did or did not provide all of the documentation they are now relying upon. This is not relevant to our case.

There has also been much discussion about Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations; again this is not relevant to our case.

It has been questioned whether in fact the mortgages issued by West Brom were indeed trackers, this cannot be denied by West Brom as this is the basis they report them to the rating standards agencies – see this link

The agreed level of funds to be deposited into the BARCO account is £1,144 per affected mortgage being represented. For example, somebody wishing to have 10 affected mortgages represented will need to deposit a further £11,440 into the BARCO account. Existing members will receive a refund of unused funds which they paid into the client account of The Law Department. New members will need to pay an additional premium of £356 per mortgage to the Property118 marketing fund to equalise the financial contributions and efforts of the forerunners of the group.

Therefore, the net payment per affected mortgage for members will be:

  • For existing members who have already instructed The Law Department £994 (assuming a refund of £150 per affected mortgage from The Law Department)
  • For new members the total cost per mortgage to be represented will be £1,500

We have created a simple set of instructions explaining how much you need to pay and who you need to pay it to here >>> http://www.property118.com/simplified-payment-instructions-join-west-brom-action/

Remember, if/when we win you will get more than this amount back when you also factor in 100% of the extra 1.9% interest you have been paying which will also be refunded. The worst case scenario is that you will get none of this money back if we lose. If you can live with that you should proceed.

The reason we have chosen this strategy as opposed to buying ATE insurance is that it costs us much less if we win. We are in this to win this. The above strategy means that we all know what we stand to lose and can proceed with our eyes wide open, confident that our liabilities are limited.

If the balance of the BARCO account associated with this action is less than £250,000 by close of business on Friday 28th March 2014 the legal action case will be aborted, funds will be returned to members within 14 days and that will be the end of the line for this campaign for myself and Property118 – at least for 12 months or more anyway. If necessary we will then take another look at Plan B.

UPDATE – 31st March 2014

Since publishing this article our campaign has raised over £450,000 and legal action has now commenced. The official closing date for borrowers to be represented in this action was 28th March 2014. However, it may still be possible to be included in the representative action by paying additional fees to cover administration and Court fees to be added to the list of represented claimants. For further details please Contact Carla Morris-Papps at Cotswold Barristers – telephone 01242 639 454 or email carla@cotswoldbarristers.co.uk



Comments

by Mark Alexander

17:58 PM, 4th March 2014, About 8 years ago

I wanted to be first in but didn't get around to posting my cheque and instructions letter yesterday 🙁

It went in the post at lunchtime today though 🙂

Hopefully I will be able to start reporting the number of instructions received and value of funds on account on a daily basis starting tomorrow 🙂

From what I've read so far it's very encouraging and looks like we will reach the required target very easily.

I do feel for the people who may never get to know about this opportunity though. They will end up doing "no-win-no-fee" deals in a few years time and are unlikely to get their overpayments back as the lawyers will swallow up those funds in fees.

We all have a moral duty to let them know, let's all do our bit, whatever that might be and post our activities here.

To get the ball rolling, I contacted our friendly reporter (Nicole Blackmore) at The Telegraph today. I also spoke to FT Adviser who are writing their article as we speak and I've seen a very supportive quote from the IFA and Mortgage Broker website Cherryfind has been sent to the FT for use in their article.

I will post links to all new media articles here as and when I discover them.
.

by Denise G

18:02 PM, 4th March 2014, About 8 years ago

never mind Mark, first last or in the middle, all that matters is that we're in and that we're in it to win it! Please let us know whenever you come across anything we can tweet, post on Facebook, Linked in or Google+ etc to get this message of hope out to as many affected borrowers as possible

by Onslow Clough

18:30 PM, 4th March 2014, About 8 years ago

I have contacted the Jeremy Vine Show, Robert Peston at the BBC, Rebecca on the Simon Mayo Radio 2 show, Harry Wallop and Richard Dyson at the Telegraph, Which? magazine (so sympathetic and have already put lots of hours into legal arguments against the Bank of Ireland's case), and James Charles, editor on the Times/Sunday Times money section. Let's spread the word!

by Highland Lass

18:59 PM, 4th March 2014, About 8 years ago

Hi Everyone

We are in too! Forms copied, id copied, cheque for £1144 representing one WB mortgage, just waiting for hubby's signature this evening and it will all be off to Mark Smith first thing tomorrow morning.

Thanks again for all the hard work of all those active participants since last September, especially Mark Alexander. And also to the many who do not post on this forum but who have been working away on all the suggestions mentioned by members.
Thanks also to Justin and his team at The Law Department for helping us reach this exciting position where we are ready to take it to court.

We are all so close, another few weeks and everything will be in Mark Smith's capable hands and we can rest assured that we have done our best to achieve our goal.

However, only another few weeks and it will be too late for those who have not joined this action group. They will unfortunately be on their own.

So if you know of anyone with a WB tracker or can think of any way we haven't already considered, to increase awareness of this campaign and give affected borrowers the final opportunity to join, let us know.

Just another few weeks and I'll be glad to relax a little and get on with our 'normal' life and wait for the successful outcome of all our effort.

It's been a very energetic and positive group and I hope we'll get the chance for a get together when this has all been resolved successfully.

Well done everyone

by Lawrence Squid

20:20 PM, 4th March 2014, About 8 years ago

My cheque for £2288 is on its way (2 WB mortgages).
It feels great to take on the West Brom Building Society BULLIES.
Join now to 'Pull West Brom's Pants Down' in court.

by Alexander Law

20:45 PM, 4th March 2014, About 8 years ago

We have completed the instructions to Mark Smith, photopied passports and utility bills, and after a visit to the bank tomorrow will be posting our cheque for £2,288 to Cotwold Barristers.

What the West Brom have done is daylight robbery by sleight of hand. We believed them when they sold us 2 mortgages "at 0.99% above base rate for the life of the mortgage with no floor", and we feel extremely angry that they have renegued on their deal. We are determined to see this unfair and arbitrary rate hike overturned in the courts, and are prepared to fight them all the way.

So, to anyone thinking of joining our merry band I say please join us, and together we can overturn this injustice. Fortune favours the bold!

by chrisbusy

22:20 PM, 4th March 2014, About 8 years ago

My instructions to Mark Smith confirmed today and cheque winging its merry way to him tomorrow. Never parted with over a thousand pounds so easily and happily and when we win i will get it all back ...AND SOME ! ! !

This is without doubt the best chance this century for the small man to take a swipe back at everything that the banks ( and building societies ! ) have put us all through over the past few years .
I for one am not going to let this opportunity slip through my fingers and if you are sitting on the fence just now...nor should you !
We will continue without the doubters and fence sitters but would be so much stronger with them onboard so come on guys and gals ..climb aboard because this ship is sailing soon.

by shaun campling

23:18 PM, 4th March 2014, About 8 years ago

it gave me an enormous feeling of smug satisfaction to complete my instruction to mark smith for 2 mortgages (cheque for #2288 will be in the post tomorrow) WB have proven to be a bunch of incompetent fraudsters who are trying to bully me into funding their greed driven cock ups, and now i can fight back. its a fantastic campaign run by mark alexander and after attending the member meeting, seeing and hearing from mark smith i can say i am very pleased to have him on my side. he comes over as enthusiastic, confident and capable.if you have still not decided to join the action, i implore you to do so, if your worried about raising the money, raid the piggy bank, beg or borrow the money! after all, if you think its wrong and the judge agrees with you your gonna get #1000 of it back. you dont need to be a rocket scientist to work out this is a fantastic deal !!!

by ian

9:22 AM, 5th March 2014, About 8 years ago

WB throw down the Gauntlet in the FT Adviser if one of to could do the link pls

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