The new coalition government have now revealed details of their new policies to the public. Most of you will remember the very high profile battle in the High Court at the end of last year, by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), who lost their claim to have bank charges declared unfair. Despite this loss in the Courts, I am glad to see, as will many members of the public, that one of the new Government’s policies is to implement a ban of unfair bank charges. This comes as the Financial Services Authority just last week confirmed that the UK banks have had 2,014.000 complaints in the first 5 months of this year, regarding bank charges.
The Government also plans to ban excessive interest rates on credit cards and store cards, as well as promising to give homeowners greater protection from aggressive bailiffs, and make it so that repossession proceedings are always a last resort. As the country is at its highest level of personal debt in decades; close to £1.5 trillion, these are positive steps which may go a long way to millions of people.
However, the Government has not yet given details or guidelines on what will be considered to be unfair, nor have they specified what protections will be given. We will therefore have to watch this space to see how their new plans unveil, and how this will ultimately help borrowers.
As a solicitor specialising in disputed loans and mortgages, I have seen a vast increase over the past 18 months in clients suffering at the hands of some lenders and debt recovery companies. Often, either the loan agreements themselves, or the actions of the lender or debt recovery company, can result in the loans being significantly reduced, or sometimes even written off.
I think that the proposals by this government are positive and hopeful, and I am glad to see that they are continuing the OFT’s vision of making lending practises more fair, and reduce the massive personal debt total.
If you have a loan agreement that you think may be unfair, you can contact our specialist debt team on 01942 777777, who can assess your case and advise you. You may even be entitled to Legal Aid, subject to eligibility.
By consumer solicitor, Heather Korwin-Szymanowska