Monday, 25 May 2020

PPI Claims - Not finished!

You took out a PPI (payment protection insurance) policy and you have since been kicking yourself so hard that one of your legs is covered in bruises and you cannot exercise. But your pain might just evaporate if it transpires that, unbeknown to you at the time, the bank or other lender who granted you credit and got you into the policy received a massive commission from the company which issued the policy. You just might be able to secure a cut of the commission or refund of some of the premiums paid to the PPI company. You would be making a so-called Plevin claim named after a Supreme Court case which gave the green light to claims of this kind. The Financial Ombudsman Service was taking up Plevin claims on behalf of borrowers but the time is now up for obtaining any redress through the Ombudsman in high commission cases which leaves court proceedings -they could probably be dealt with as  a county court 'small claim'- as the only option.

The proceedings would be on the basis that the relationship between you and the lender was unfair, under section 140A of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Trouble is that such proceedings must be started within six years of the policy coming to an end - UNLESS! Yes, like lots of situations in the law, there are exceptions. One of those exceptions is this. The six years may be extended where your lender has deliberately concealed some fact which is relevant to your right to take action. The concealment can concern the lender's receipt of that commission and, if it does, the time for starting proceedings might not start to run until you discovered that the commission had been received or could have discovered its recipe with reasonable diligence. 
In a case just before the High Court called  Canada Square Operations Ltd (formerly Egg Banking plc) v Potter [2020] EWHC 672 (QB) the borrower only discovered a commission on a PPI policy linked to a loan agreement  which amounted to a cool 95.24% of the premium, eight and a half years after the loan agreement ended. Canada Square accepted that its relationship with the borrower had been s140A unfair. It argued on appeal against an adverse judgment that there had been no duty to disclose the commission and so there was an absence of deliberate concealment. 

Canada Square, said the High Court judge, had not taken any positive action to conceal. However, it had made a deliberate decision not to do something in circumstances where it was obvious that the existence of the commission would not be discovered for some time and that was good enough to have earned the borrower an extension of time for bringing the proceedings!

Canada Square is seeking permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal. I'll keep you posted on that. Certainly, there currently exists a judgment which can be used to support an 'unfair relationship' claim. On the strength of that judgment, you may wish to write to your lender and ask them -
1 Did you receive a commission on the PPI policy and was it paid in one lump sum?
2 How much was that commission and what percentage of the PPI premiums did it represent?
3 Why did you not disclose the commission to me?
4 Do you accept that, because of non-disclosure, our relationship was unfair within section 140A of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and, if so, what do you propose to do about it?

Mention the Canada Square case.

You'll find loads of info on consumer rights - and much more - in my book Breaking Law.



Monday, 18 May 2020

Taxpayer Win in High Income Child Benefit Charge Case


If you or your partner receive child benefit and your annual adjusted net income is over £50,000 then part of that child benefit will be taxable. If you reach £60,000 then the whole of the benefit will be taxable. That's been the score since 7 January 2013 and you have to disclose the benefit to the taxman and, register for self-assessment, if not already registered, sending in a tax return. Failure to do so will land you with a bill for the tax you should have paid, interest on it - and PENALTIES!!!!

That's what happened in a case just before the first-tier tribunal of the tax chamber.*  There, the taxpayer's partner had received child benefit for the tax years 2012/13 through to 2015/16. The taxpayer had not disclosed the benefit to the taxman because he claimed he did not know of his obligation to do so. In fact, some of the benefit would have been taxable. He did not find out about his obligation until the taxman wrote to him in August 2018 telling him about the the high income charge. He then made full disclosure and paid up everything required except for a penalty of £296. 

The tribunal has cancelled the penalty. The taxpayer, a lorry driver, had a reasonable excuse for not disclosing the benefit because he had not known that he was obliged to do so. There had been a number of cases where tribunals had decided that ignorance of the law could be a reasonable excuse. It would depend on the nature of the law in question and the characteristics of the taxpayer. HMRC argued that it was not obliged to inform taxpayers of  a change in the law but, nevertheless, there had been national campaign about the this scheme. The tribunal concluded that the taxpayer was completely unaware of the new legislation and noted that there had been no targeted campaign to write to all tax payers earning over £50,000 when it had come in.

If you are late in appealing a penalty in your case, you can have  a go at asking the tribunal to extend your time for doing so, explaining why an extension is needed.

* Kevin Brazier v The Commissioners for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs [2020] UKTT 00185 (TC)






Wednesday, 13 May 2020

COVID-19: Amended health protection restrictions in England


For an accurate summary (and you don't get many of them) of the changes to 'going out' which apply in England as from today Wednesday 13 May 2020, have a butchers at

See you in the park.  I'll be carrying a copy of Breaking Law under my left armpit.



Wednesday, 29 April 2020

COVID-19: Bailiff Seizure Holiday


Your copy of Breaking Law (I dispute that the pages fall out), Rolls Bentley, second tv set and stock of 2,689 unneeded multi-packs of toilet rolls are safe from bailiff seizure during the emergency restrictions. Regulations* which came into force on 25 April 2020 prevent enforcement agents (including bailiffs) from taking control of goods at a home or located on the highway (for example, a parked car) while the restrictions last. They can still do the worst at business premises. In relation to rent arrears for business premises where the landlord has been able to send in an enforcement agent to take stock and other goods under the commercial rent arrears recovery scheme, the minimum amount of arrears for this to be done has been done has been raised from seven days' worth to 90 days for the time being (where notice of enforcement was served after 24 April 2020). 

* The Taking of Goods and Certification of Enforcement Agents (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/451