OFT OKs Move to Strike Out Logbook Loans’ Appeal
The OFT has given its nod to a Tribunal’s decision striking out appeals by the UK’s biggest logbook loan businesses against the removal of their consumer credit licences.
Log Book Loans can seek permission to appeal the decision of the First-tier Tribunal to the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) on the grounds that there has been an error of law. If the appeal period were to be extended in this way Log Book Loans would be able to trade under their licences until the end of the appeal period.
The First-tier Tribunal’s ruling to strike out the appeals of Nine Regions Limited (‘NRL’) and Log Book Loans Limited (together ‘Log Book Loans’) followed the OFT’s original decision that Log Book Loans were unfit to hold consumer credit licences.
Logbook loans are secured on vehicles such as cars and motorbikes. If the borrower defaults, the loan company can seize the vehicle without going to court. Even after the vehicle is sold the borrower can still be pursued for any shortfall.
The OFT asked the Tribunal to strike out Log Book Loans’ appeals because of evidence that emerged during the appeal hearing. Log Book Loans admitted that thousands of letters had been sent to borrowers in the name of a firm called Adams Spencer & Phillips (Legal Services) Limited (‘ASP’) falsely threatening to take legal action on behalf of NRL.
The First-tier Tribunal found that the letters were sent to give borrowers a false impression that ASP was a body authorised to carry on activities as if it were a firm of solicitors, such as the conduct of litigation.
Additionally, it was found that the ASP actually had no employees and was not a body or individual duly authorised to bring legal action on behalf of NRL; deceptive practices included that between September 2009 and April 2010, employees of NRL called customers pretending to be employees of ASP; the ASP letters were part of a deliberate deceit; and that the deception was played out, not simply in front of customers but also with third parties such as solicitors acting for borrowers, as well as the Financial Ombudsman Service.
David Fisher, Director of the OFT’s Consumer Credit Group said: “The OFT welcomes the Tribunal’s decision to strike out the companies’ appeals. The decision confirms our view that these companies are unfit to hold their consumer credit licences.
“Intentionally deceiving debtors as part of a debt collection policy is an extremely serious matter, which calls into question a licensee’s fitness. We expect businesses licensed by the OFT to treat all their customers, including those in arrears, fairly and transparently.”