Over 1,000 people have registered an interest in the Class Action groups challenging the legality of the increases to tracker mortgage interest rate margins proposed/implemented by West Bromwich and Bank of Ireland. Many of the people who have registered are not affected at this time but are sufficiently concerned about the potential knock on effects to the attitudes of other lenders to make a donation to the Class Action Marketing Fund. We must spread the word to ensure that we win these cases in order to to discourage other mortgage lenders from following suit.
Funds raised towards the legal fighting fund are being held in a solicitors client account which complies fully with The Law Society rules and is protected by client money protection insurance and the solicitors compensation fund until they are billed. The objective is to raise sufficient money to be in a position to fund group action court cases and associated legal expenses insurance. No court cases will begin until such time as sufficient funds are raised to protect and limit the liabilities of all participants to the amount of funds contributed up front. If Court cases are not required or are not affordable then any surplus funds held on account will be returned pro-rata to the members of each group.
Latest media coverage in which our campaigns are named/linked
BBC TV News Channel “Your Money” (10 minutes and 18 seconds into the programme)
Guild of Residential Landlords
What Sam Saw Today – part One
What Sam Saw Today – part Two
House Selling Advice
Existing supporters of the Class Action campaign are to be congratulated for their efforts to date.
If you wish to get involved please see the To-Do list below.
- Complete the Class Action Expression of Interest Form – Link here You will then receive emails advising you what to do next.
- Please make a donation to the marketing fund to help spread the word – Link here
- Complain to your lenders and copy in the Financial Ombudsman Service – letter template here
- email email@example.com
- Write to your local MP – find your local MP via this link several MP’s have already referred this matter to the chancellor of the exchequer or the chairman of the treasury select committee. The more support the better so we need everybody to write.
- Contact your local newspapers – use this Press Release as a base and add your personal story as the media love case studies with local interest
- Post articles linking back to Property118 on websites/blogs and post links in Facebook Groups and other online forums
West Bromwich BS Class Action Update
The reasons we started this campaign are very simple:-
1) We believe the actions of West Brom are immoral
2) We believe the actions of West Brom are unlawful, i.e. they have no legal grounds to increase their tracker rate margins
3) We have no wish to subsidise other areas of the West Bromwich Building Society business model
4) We are fearful of other lenders following suit if West Brom are allowed to get away with this
On these grounds we have raised more than enough money to cover the initial legal work and the costs of obtaining Counsels opinion. In fact, after taking these costs out of the funds raised to date we are 27% towards our minimum target fund raising to commence litigation. Now I don’t know about you but if Counsels opinion is that we have a VERY strong case I would definitely consider paying a lot more than I’ve paid already to take this all the way. £240 a case is a tiny fraction of what we all stand to lose, not just in terms of this lender but possibly others too.
In a months time we will have Counsels opinion. These are the scenario’s I have considered.
1) Worst case scenario is that we will be advised that we do not have a case. If that happens, costs to date will be taken from the funds raised and we will all get a refund pro-rata.
2) We are advised that we have a good case but we do not have enough money in the pot to fight it. We will then have to set a closing date for the fund and have a vote amongst members on how much they are prepared to pay if necessary. I suggest a pledge of up to one years worth of savings because if we start trying to set amounts we could be going back and forth forever more if people decide they are are in at one level and out at another. If we still don’t have enough money pledged at the end of such an exercise then it’s possibly game over, i.e. contributions are refunded net of expenses to all named borrowers.
3) We have enough money in the pot and counsels opinion is that we should fight.
We will NOT settle on any basis.
In our opinion, we are more likely to raise the required funds on this basis.
We have a moral duty to do what is right for those who support the values upon which we started this campaign in the first place. Our promise to all who support these values is that we will not sell out on you at any price. We will continue to fight this injustice and we will fight any other lender who tries to follow suit.
Who’s with me?
West Bromwich Legal Action So Far
We appointed solicitors to consider the actions of the West Bromwich BS tracker mortgage hike in interest rate margins at the beginning of October. Well over 100 affected borrowers have sent their papers and fees to the solicitor representing the group.
The solicitor acting for the group has been asked NOT to commit chargeable time to respond to individual telephone calls and emails from affected borrowers, this is to preserve funds. All questions should be raised via the Property118 forums to prevent duplication of efforts.
Around £15,000 of the funds raised to date will be used to complete the following steps. The balance will be held towards a Court action fighting fund, the target for which is £100,000 plus.
- To seek counsels opinion on the legality of the actions of West Bromwich and to seek advice on the most direct legal options to pursue. The solicitor acting for the group has appointed one of the UK’s leading banking barristers at Stone Buildings London
- The solicitor acting will provide template letters for all paid up members to send to the solicitors who acted in the transaction. This letter will advise the solicitors to put their PI insurers on notice and also ask the solicitors to comment on why they did not offer advice on the clauses now being used by West Bromwich BS.
- A further template letter for affected borrowers to submit as a follow up to initial complaints to the Financial Ombudsman service will also be prepared by the solicitors acting for the group and will be based on counsels opinion. There is no rush to do this, we have up to six months, hence the decision to await Counsels opinion in respect of the best possible legal arguments to present.
- The solicitor acting on behalf of the group has already sent a letter to Andrew Tyrie MP, Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee. A response is awaited.
- The solicitor acting on behalf of the group will submit formal complaints to the Financial Conduct Authority and the Financial Ombudsman Service once Counsels opinion has been received. A further complaint may be submitted to the Advertising Standards Authority dependent upon counsels advice.
Bank of Ireland Class Action Update
More pressure needs to be put on the Financial Conduct Authority to obtain their own independent advice as to the legality of the actions already implemented by the Bank of Ireland. They received our barristers opinion, sent it to BoI who obtained comment from their QC and then decided to do nothing further. Our solicitor is of the opinion that the FCA response was a “whitewash” as they did not seek their own independent advice prior to making a decision. The more noise we can make about this the better as we need them to reconsider their position. Pressure is intensifying from the Treasury Select committee to lean on the FCA as more MP’s get embroiled in the debate following complaints from their constituents. Fundraising will recommence in due course, in the meantime, a QC working at the same chambers as the barrister we instructed has volunteered to review the opinion of our barrister and the responses from the FCA and the Bank of Ireland.
Fees applicable to the Bank of Ireland Class action are likely to be £240 per property, less any fees paid to date. We will advise you when the fundraising re-commences. Our objective is to significantly increase the numbers of interested parties before fund raising recommences. We are quietly confident that the promotional activities described in this update article will increase the numbers of interested participants.
The Financial Ombudsman Service are yet to make a decision based on the formal complaint regarding the actions of Bank of Ireland. It has been 7 months now since the FOS opened this case and their are still pontificating how to deal with it. If you believe this is an unacceptable delay the address to write to is The Financial Ombudsman Service, South Quay Plaza, 183 Marsh Wall, London E14 9SR.
In both cases
Preference remains to persuade a regulator to take the cases to Court as this will significantly reduce costs to affected borrowers.
Disclosure – in group legal action cases it is normal for both sides to be aware of each others legal arguments before a Court case commences. Therefore, there is no risk to debating legal points in open forum. There is, however, a positive upside in that it continues to provide media with new stories and people to contact for case studies. Exposure is what we need to build the group.
The Marketing Fund
The purpose of the marketing fund is to increase awareness of the campaign. This fund is held separately to the Class Action legal fighting fund which is held in a solicitors client account protected by client money protection insurance. The marketing fund is administered by Innovative Landlord Solutions LLP which is the owner of Property118.com.
Initiatives funded so far include sending letters to a database of mortgage brokers and financial advisers. The database was rented from Equifax and we chose to send letters as opposed to emails in order to guarantee delivery. We have also completed significant Search Engine Optimisation to make it easier for people surfing the internet to learn about our campaigns.
A Press Conference, open to paid up members of the Class action Group, and those who have contributed to the marketing fund, will be organised shortly after we have receive Counsels opinion on the West Brom case and the QC’s opinion in respect of our submission of the BoI case to the FCA, their response and the BoI’s QC’s response to the FCA. All responses are anticipated to be received towards the end of November with the Press Conference being held in London shortly thereafter. Surplus funds in the marketing fund, which are still continuing to flow in nicely, are being held towards this event. Funds raised since our first call for donations to a Marketing Fund on 3rd October are now approaching £4,000 of which £3,375 has been utilised to date.
We have done some research and we are able to contact in the region of 230,000 to 420,000 people via Facebook for a budget of £800. These will be friends of friends of people who have “Liked” the Property118 Facebook page. On the basis that people socialise with like minded people this could be an excellent target audience.
Details via this link >>> http://www.property118.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Facebook-Promo.png
The beauty of this type of advertising is that we can add credit to reach more people as and when we receive donations.
If you wish to donate to the the fund please see >>> http://www.property118.com/much-appreciated/ and send us an email to let us know that you wish the funds you have donated to be used to fund Facebook marketing. The email address to write to is firstname.lastname@example.org
All comments via the main discussion threads please.
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