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 Dean

16:24 PM, 21st January 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "21/01/2015 - 16:11":

Thanks Mark

What are yours and Mark Smiths general feeling as to how it went please?

Did you get any feedback from WB legal Vultures ? Their body language I mean I don't expect they came up and patted us on the back and swapped shirts



by Susan Mason

17:06 PM, 21st January 2015, About 7 years ago

The otherside was waffling, umming and arring a lot and bringing subjects up that had no relevance to the case! Trying to dig their way out of a hole most of the time in my opinion!

by David Lawrenson

17:48 PM, 21st January 2015, About 7 years ago

The others side's strongest suit was all the case law from other industries... think they were trying to scare judge into worrying he will be setting a precedent if he finds for us.

Good summary at end by Mark Smith - effectively repeating it is a tracker for life.... and that any reasonable person would see it for what it is...

Oh as my old cockney mum might have said, "If it looks like a fish, if it says its a fish on the packets and it smells like a fish, then it's probably not a **** g goat"

by ashley nissim

17:49 PM, 21st January 2015, About 7 years ago

My feeling at the conclusion of the hearing was that the judge had a clear understanding on the legal points that he now has the responsibility to interpret in accordance with previous case law.

I felt that he was needing to be persuaded that the two conflicting clauses could not possible be read together, i.e, that the rate was BofE + ?% ONLY.

In the opening statements I felt that he was asking for evidence that could persuaded him, but never found anything that did.

However, Mark S's arguments about this point after the break clearly gave him something to think about as he openly pondered the punctuation of a pertinent clause rather than dismissing it.

That & the screenshot from 2007 that stated the word "certainty" are the two things that I think bought us back into the fight.

In the end there were no bloody noses on either side, and no knock out blows. It is finely balanced, but David is still in the fight.

Well done to Counsel for giving the judge some persuasive points to consider.

Let's hope the next hearing is in a few weeks rather than months!

by Denise G

20:38 PM, 21st January 2015, About 7 years ago

Has anybody heard ANYTHING???????

by Devon Landlords

21:01 PM, 21st January 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "D D" at "21/01/2015 - 20:38":

Hi DD, We've just got home....Ashley has summarised the events brilliantly and now we have to wait for we're not sure how long while the Judge decides - sounds like it could be anything between 2 weeks and 5 months - I don't know how much more biting my nails can take! Enjoyed our day in Court today though... great to meet some people from the group at last. Thanks so much once again to the two Marks for all your hard work!! PS - Sorry for not replying to your tweet for ages Andy - we lost the car park and were wandering round in circles for three quarters of an hour!

by Chris Novice Shark Bait

21:26 PM, 21st January 2015, About 7 years ago

Thanks to the 2 Marks. When they get time to comment further the dicrepency between the 2 weeks and 5 months for a judgement may be resolved into something very timely and well considered. Just hope this does not become another Sir John Chilcot!

This should be about large organisations not seeking to pull the wool over the eyes of their borrowers, whover they are, nor their brokers. WB seem to have achieved both in the shorter term. It is about transparency and fair play which are both fast evapourating in our society.

The judge has a very important decision to make. Let's hope that he applies the common sense necessary to put this to bed. It is quite correct that the press should take a very keen interest in this valiant attempt at achieving justice by all of us who have contributed to this worthy cause. Thanks also to those who posted whatever sparse info on here to the none tweeters treading the boards and nibbling @ finger nails. I was watching, not being able to be there in body.

by Mark Alexander

8:23 AM, 22nd January 2015, About 7 years ago

This is what the Daily Mail had to say about yesterday's case. The final paragraph is particularly interesting and if Cox QC really did say this outside the court it seems like an own goal to me http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2920905/Lender-accused-rip-buy-let-deals-Building-society-accused-raising-rates-whim-boost-coffers.html

by David Vickers

8:41 AM, 22nd January 2015, About 7 years ago

very interesting indeed. Did the judge give any indication when he would get back to us?

by Mark Alexander

8:47 AM, 22nd January 2015, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David " at "22/01/2015 - 08:41":

Sadly not but there's enough speculation to start a sweepstake LOL

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