20:21 PM, 19th January 2015, About 7 years ago 124

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#WestBromTrackerMark Smith, Head of Chambers at Cotswold Barristers will be representing landlords at the Commercial Court at Rolls Building, Fetter Lane, London this Wednesday in the UK’s largest ever direct access legal case. #WestBromTracker

We will be tweeting under hashtag #WestBromTracker so please feel to join in the discussion on Twitter and re-tweet. You may also wish to use hashtags such as #mortgage #news and #media but #WestBromTracker is the essential one.

Please wish us luck because this really is a David and Goliath fight. The people affected by these tracker rate margin hikes trusted their mortgage lenders to treat them fairly. Via Property118 a group has managed to raise over £500,000 to have a case against the West Bromwich Mortgage Company (a wholy owned subsidiary of West Bromwich Building Society) tested in Court. The funds raised to fight the case have not come from the super rich, they’ve been contributed by hard working folk who chose to invest their hard earned savings into providing much needed rental property. They trusted the building society to honour the mortgage deal they signed up to but sadly this trust has been broken. 

The Bank of Ireland, Manchester Building Society, Skipton Building Society and their wholly owned subsidiary AmberHomeloans have previously got away with similar rate-hike shenanigans but it is not too late for affected borrowers to take action. Hopefully a win on Wednesday 21st January will discourage other mortgage lenders from tinkering with tracker rate mortgage margins in the future and will also inspire borrowers affected by similar rate hikes to fund legal action against those mortgage lenders too.

Trading Standards, the Advertising Standards Association and the FCA all refused to get involved in the dispute. The Financial Ombudsman Service appear to have chosen to ignore all contractual legal arguments and to make very strange decisions in all complaints regarding actions of mortgage lenders in respect of hiking interest rates when their sales pitch clearly linked rates to a transparent pricing structure.

Watch this space and please feel free to post comments.


  • Before the credit crunch tracker mortgages were incredibly popular, there are an estimated 1 million tracker rate mortgages in the UK, many of which are secured against peoples own homes
  • Tracker rate mortgages are intended to provide transparent pricing. The rate of interest is directly linked to the Bank of England base rate plus an agreed margin for an agreed period of time, in many cases for the lifetime of the loan.
  • Some unscrupulous lenders have increased the margin charged over the base rate and this has been the basis of our legal argument against the West Bromwich Building Society, i.e. the contract did not allow for this to happen.
  • Some peoples mortgage payments have more than doubled despite the base rate not having moved for nearly six years.
  • Hikes in tracker rate margins haven’t only affected landlords
  • In 2013 Bank of Ireland increased the margins on over 15,000 tracker rate mortgages, those affected were both homeowners and people who had taken buy to let mortgages in order to buy properties as investments to provide for their retirement. To date, insufficient funds have been raised to take this case to Court.
  • People naturally tighten their purse strings when their mortgage costs increase and many have expected regulators to step in and help them. Sadly the regulators’ appetite to take on the banks and building societies who have breached their mortgage terms by increasing their tracker rate mortgage margins has been none existent. That’s why Court action has been so necessary.
  • If every affected person had committed just £500 to fight for their rights in Court this sharp practice from mortgage lenders would have been nipped in the bud a long time ago.
  • In 2010 Skipton Building Society and their wholly owned subsidiary Amber Homeloans removed a contracted interest rate cap from their mortgages which had a similar effect of massively increasing the mortgage payments of a reported 80,000 borrowers. The interest rate cap, which was linked to the bank base rate, was removed despite public announcements from their CEO less than a year before that contractual arrangements would be honoured. A case has never been taken to Court due to lack of financial commitment from affected borrowers. more about the Skipton Building Society rate hike and links to source information here >>> http://www.property118.com/skipton-building-society-legal-action/64751/
  • Both Property118 and Cotswold Barristers are keen to pursue legal action against Skipton Building Society and the Bank of Ireland if public interest in doing so is sufficiently high and subject to the required level of funding being attained.
  • The required level of financial commitment to take on the other offending lenders would be circa 2,000 borrowers each committing around £500.


by Onslow Clough

10:24 AM, 24th January 2015, About 7 years ago

Another good piece from Nicole Blackmore in the Money section of the Telegraph.. good use of phrases such as "Illegally increasing", and "no right to increase the rate" tucked into the article.

by Mark Alexander

15:25 PM, 24th January 2015, About 7 years ago

Article in the Gloucester Echo >>> http://www.gloucestershireecho.co.uk/Cheltenham-barrister-represents-landlords/story-25914428-detail/story.html

Also, just appeared on Twitter ...

by graham mcauley

16:55 PM, 27th January 2015, About 7 years ago

As I did not receive a reply when I last posted this question, (maybe it was missed,) I thought I would ask it again.
Westbrom BS said to the judge they increased the rate rather than calling in the Mortgages. So if they lose the case, surely they would then want to call in the mortgages rather than running their business at a loss?
I know they are supposed to have good reason to call in the loans, but can they
as they seem to do what they want anyway, and then tell us to "take me to court"
can anyone put my mind to rest?

by Mark Alexander

15:20 PM, 28th January 2015, About 7 years ago

Just heard, Judgement Day is tomorrow.

I will be there and will report the verdict, whichever way it goes, immediately thereafter.

I have produced two draft articles ready for publication so fingers crossed for us please.

Watch this space!

by All BankersAreBarstewards Smith

15:35 PM, 28th January 2015, About 7 years ago

good luck.......

by David Vickers

15:43 PM, 28th January 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "28/01/2015 - 15:20":

Mark, are you allowed to tweet while in court? Please tweet if it's a win asap, will be waiting with fingers crossed, good luck everyone

by Mark Alexander

15:46 PM, 28th January 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Vickers" at "28/01/2015 - 15:43":

Hi David, sadly mobile phones MUST be turned off in Court, hence the media blackout on the day of the trial other than during lunch. Rest assured, the verdict will be shared with the entire 200,000 Property118 subscribers (which includes our media contacts) within an hour of Judgement being passed.

Watch this space!

by ian

16:05 PM, 28th January 2015, About 7 years ago

Best of luck hope all your hard work pays off, not affected here but am with BoI.

by Paul Anderton

17:20 PM, 28th January 2015, About 7 years ago

good luck everybody fingers crossed.

by John Cornford

18:16 PM, 28th January 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "All BankersAreBarstewards Smith" at "19/01/2015 - 20:27":

Good luck!!! What they're doing is clearly unfair!

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