To use or not use a solicitor to make your PPI Claim
To use or not use a solicitor to make your PPI Claim, abiased but reasoned opinion of a solicitor who has assisted in gathering over £50 million pounds for the consumer.
In 2007 when this Firm originally looked at our Client Bank to investigate the possibilities of PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) claims I had no idea whatsoever of the size of industry that would develop.
I became aware of the potential due to my moderate attempts on a Sunday to buy a quality newspaper and read the financial section to try and educate myself. I am still trying! I noted one or two very discreet mentions of PPI investigation and the possibility of mis-selling. Accordingly after months of investigation embarked on my most significantly business development venture.
I wrote to clients who we dealt with in re-mortgaging from Trust Deed or Sequestrations. This being somewhat of a speciality of the Firm in those days.
The business developed slowly. Initially there were rejections which we referred to the Ombudsman.
Then of course came the “Credit Crunch”. As a result of the “Credit Crunch” three of my most significant property development clients were not able to develop properties. They were, however, in a particularly advantageous financial position and after some 6 months of asking me about property development proposals (of which there were very few due to the restraints of the “Credit Crunch”) they agreed to invest in a Claims Company and refer work to Carr Berman Crichton. From there the business developed. Other than our own Client Bank and advertising through our own website and e-mail letter we receive referrals from a number of Claims Management Companies. From very early stages Banks encouraged clients to lodge their PPI applications through them. They indeed regularly telephone clients to advise them to do so and sack us. And indeed very blatantly encouraged their clients not to use us. Indeed the websites of most Banks to this day carry advices not to use a Claims Management Company. My own Firm, a Firm of Solicitors effectively came under the same umbrella.
It was disappointing to note that “WHICH” and Martin Lewis – “Money Saving Expert” regularly repeated the fact that the clients could proceed without the use of a Claims Management Company. Again, it was fair to say that a Solicitor was not mentioned but we came under the same umbrella.
If a client has time, is able to read a several page Questionnaire and complete the same there is of course nothing to stop them dealing with the case themselves if they have the data. It is their right. However, the Questionnaire in itself is geared in many respects to put off the consumer and we have no doubt at all that thousands if not dozens of thousands of consumers throughout the UK have either lost claims or not proceeded with claims due to their inability to complete this paperwork.
In particular there are questions relating to a consumer’s financial position when they took out a loan. There are comparatively few people who retain all their financial records and are in a position to advise what their financial position was 5/10/15 years ago. However, that problem can easily be assisted by a Solicitor or reputable Claims Management Company.
Again, there are regularly questions about the indebtedness of a client, specifically asking whether they had missed any payments. For a reasonably educated person it is clear that question may put them off but in many respects they will appreciate that all the Banks can do if they are in arrears or had missed payments of an active account is to offset any legitimate PPI claim.
Unfortunately, many millions of the population of the United Kingdom are not as well read and educated as they should be. They have difficulties generally with paperwork and even if they can manage paperwork they have struggles with questions such as their financial position several years ago and indeed have clearly been put off by questions about arrears. I have absolutely no doubt at all that many a consumer who has unfortunately been a victim of the world we live in i.e. pressure “to have what our neighbour has” and have had a trail of indebtedness have been put off in completing that Questionnaire and therefore voiding their own claim. In many a case they had one.
It is unfortunately my reasonable assumption that many thousands of consumers have lost cases because they have received the Payment Protection Insurance and Questionnaire and not had the ability, knowledge or education to complete the same. What is right for some consumers is not right for others.
It is pleasing to note that despite the recommendations from such as WHICH and Money Savings Expert as well as most of the financial columnists in our newspaper that there has been some realisation that Banks are not wonderful people and have not dealt with these complaints to a significant extent in the manner they should. There are of course exceptions.
Recently, Martin Lewis has confirmed that there is a lack of trust in Banks dealing with complaints in the first instance. He has confirmed that it is “outrageously hard for people to find out if they ever had PPI”. Indeed a comment from a representative of WHICH recently refers to the “current process as being wholly inadequate and driven too many consumers to use Claims Management Companies”.
Accordingly, having looked at these concessions and comments in papers at the beginning of March when the 2 year timetable was provisionally announced for time-bar of these claims, it is quite clear that there is, has been and will be a continuing need for reputable Claims Management Companies (totally distinct from the rogues) and Solicitors to assist clients in dealing with these cases.
The consumer has the option to deal with a case themselves. This has never been in dispute. This has never been argued. What the consumer also has is a right to independently instruct a Solicitor or Claims Management Company who will use their experience and professionalism in dealing with these cases to hopefully achieve a result. That is the consumer’s choice. The consumer has in many respects been let down by being influenced by others not to take independent advice when they have been unable to progress a case and deal with paperwork themselves.
We have always known of a 6 Months Rule lodging an appeal with the Ombudsman if a PPI claim has been refused. Until last summer, all a financial body required to do was refer the consumer to the Ombudsman and indicate they had a right to claim. It was not obligatory until the summer of last year that the consumer was told of the 6 Months Rule. How many consumers, taking the encouragement to deal with a claim themselves lost cases due to time-bar?
The consumer deserves choice. If you wish to instruct us in any of these matters please e-mail myself who Colin Peter Carr who is a Solicitor and Director of Carr Berman Crichton and supervises these cases from our Glasgow Office. We can deal with cases throughout the United Kingdom.