Saturday, 9 May 2009

Judge Freezes Credit Claims

Consumers overwhelmed with debts are unlikely to be able to write of credit card debt due to unenforceability.

A judge has frozen more than 100,000 claims by indebted borrowers attempting to write-off credit and loan debt by using a loophole in the law which could make the contracts unenforceable.

In a hearing last Friday in Chester County Court, Judge Derek Halbert announced that all cases have been put on hold pending the outcome of "a few carefully selected" test cases in the Commercial Court in London.

The ruling means that over-indebted borrowers will have to carrying on repaying loans until a judgement is made.

In the meantime, consumers have been warned not to fall for adverts by claims handlers promising to wipe out credit card debt alleging that agreements put in place before April 2007 are potentially unenforceable.

Daniella Lipszyc, a solicitor at Ultimate Law, a law firm, said: "The ruling by His Honour Judge Halbert is a landmark decision that will have massive implications on cases involving the enforceability of credit agreements.
“After a number of early wins, many claims management companies have jumped on the band wagon, promising desperate consumers that they can write off credit card balances.
"In reality, cases have simply ground to a halt as banks and lenders up their game and become more clued up on the Consumer Credit Act and subsidiary legislation. It’s now extremely inappropriate and misleading for any company to promise to write off balances in light of this judicial move.”
Last week the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) announced that it was investigating ten claims management firms for misleading customers over the prospect of writing off debts.

It also warned consumers to be wary of statements suggesting that 80 per cent of credit agreements and unenforceable.

Antony Townsend, chief executive of the SRA, said: "These ads appear to offer an easy way out of difficulty to people who have debts they are struggling to pay. But many credit agreements do meet the legal requirements and, therefore, can't easily be challenged as unenforceable."

This blog post is reproduced directly from an article in TimesOnline, dated 7 May 2009

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