Lloyds Bank Defend Solicitor Debt Collection Letters

Lloyds Bank has defended sending solicitor debt collection letters to their customers, as the stated their goal is to focus their customers’ minds on their debt problems.

It is the first bank to respond to the request from Andrew Tyrie, MP, who is the chair of the Treasury select committee, and encouraging the big four high street banks to issue letters to customers warning of potential financial difficulties they could face in the future.

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The banks soliciting letters are sent under the name Sechiari Clark & Mitchell (SCM)Solicitors, who describe Lloyds Bank as “our client”, and state that “We are solicitors for Lloyds Banks plc and act for them in relation to the above matter”.

Antonio Horta-Osorio of Lloyds Bank commented: “It is in both our and the customer’s interests to engage and address the financial difficulty at the earliest moment. However, we recognise that transparency is now a priority”.

People struggling with debt are therefore advised to seek help immediately, as there are plethora of financial services out there, such as professional debt management companies and charitable debt support.

Firm Raises £1,300 for MacMillan Cancer Support

macmillanThomas LLP Solicitors has raised a fantastic £1,300 for MacMillan Cancer Support, as the firm’s staff, as well as their family and friends, embarked on a walk from Bromsgrove to Worcester.

30 people took part in the charitable event, which followed the route from Bromsgrove railway station, down the canal towpaths, all the way to Thomas Horton’s office in Worcester.

The walk was in aid of a colleague who had been enduring cancer, and was the reason why Tina Circus came up with the event to raise money for the charity. Ms Circus stated: “We decided that between us we wanted to both recognise her strength and determination, as well as raise funds for the local MacMillan nurses, based at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, which is giving her so much support”.

The donation will most definitely benefit the MacMillan nurses, who each day endeavour to make cancer sufferers’ lives as easy and painless as possible.

NHS Defies Law By Denying Vital Operations to Pensioners

14In October 2013, the conservative government introduced age discrimination laws to prevent age discrimination within the health sector. However, the Royal College of Surgeons has recently warned that elderly patients are unfortunately being denied life-saving operations due to their age.

According to reports, most people over the age of 75-years-old are not offered breast cancer or routine operations, including knee operations of gall bladder removal. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt recently commented on the problem, stating the discrimination is both “unacceptable and illegal”.

It also appears that the level of healthcare provided maybe a postcode lottery, as a pensioner is more likely to be offered an operation based on their location.

Professor Norman Williams, the president of the Royal College of Surgeons, has stated: “There are large discrepancies – really huge. It is impossible to prove the reasons behind all the variation, but we have our suspicions and I worry about discrimination. It is really worrying when you look at something like colorectal cancer and there is a six fold difference between different parts of the country after the age of 65 – when we know surgery is the best for of treatment”.

Health officials are now aiming to tackle the variations in pensioner care, ensuring that the NHS adhere to legal health practices.

Wonga Fined £2.5m for Fake Law Firm Letters

14Wonga, the UK’s biggest payday lender, has been fined £2.6m in compensation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), as it was discovered that the loan company had sent out threatening letters to customers from fake law firms.

The FCA commented that Wonga had implemented “unfair and misleading debt collection practices”, and that they had used old and existing employee names in the letters to create the fake law firms. The compensation will therefore be divided between the 45,000 customers who were sent the letters over their outstanding debt repayments.

Those affected by the letters will receive either cash or have their outstanding balance reduced. Customers can also rest assured that they will receive compensation, as the FCA has appointed a “skilled person” to oversee the compensation payments to ensure people receive the cash they are entitled to.

In addition to sending the letters, Wonga also added administration charges to cover the “legal” costs of the letters. The non-existent law firms were called Chainey D’Amato & Shannon, and Barker & Lowe. The Office of Fair Trading uncovered the use of the fake names back in 2011, as Wonga was ordered to disclose information about its debt practices.

 

Who to Contact Following the Office of Fair Trading Closure

Office of Fair Trading logoThe Office of Fair Trading was a government organisation that was responsible for protecting consumer interests in the UK. However, it was subject to heavy criticism for ineffective investigations that often led to little to no action. As a result, the organisation closed on 1st April 2014, and was merged with the Competition and Markets Authority.

Who to Contact

The closure of the Office of Fair Trading has resulted in different organisations receiving new responsibilities. The OFT merger with the Competitions and Markets Authority ensures they are solely responsible for the competition law enforcement and merger control.

While many were concerned that the closure of the OFT would result in a lack of consumer protection, the Local Authority Trading Standards Services will now focus on enforcing consumer law protection.

The Financial Conduct Authority will also now have anti-money laundering powers and responsibilities in relation to consumer credit financial institutions, in addition to becoming the consumer credit regulator. However, HMRC is now the supervisor of estate agency businesses under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007.

The separation of responsibilities will therefore ensure that each organisation can investigate different issues to the best of their ability, offering a more efficient and reliable service.

For further assistance with fair trading issues, we recommend contacting the Citizen’s Advice Bureau who can offer helpful advice and support.

Protecting consumer interests can be anything from a small dispute, to a large one that results in the customer being massively out of pocket and in debt.

How Legal Aid Cuts are Affecting Vulnerable People

14The UK legal system is based on one system: every single person is equal before the law. At least that’s what we thought, anyway. However, the conservative government has introduced legal aid cuts that will affect those who need help the most.

For those of you who don’t know much about legal aid, it is a free service that helps people who are facing problems with welfare benefit, debt issues and housing and social welfare difficulties. Legal aid offers expert advice to those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.

Many Citizen Advice Bureaus have been forced to close following cuts to civil legal aid in 2011, with many more facing the threat of closure. As a result, many vulnerable people will now have nowhere to turn when faced with financial troubles, leading to increased debt or legal issues.

It is believed that £600 million of the 2010 legal aid budget of £2.1 billion will have been cut by 2015. It is no surprise that many solicitors, barristers, judges, legal advisors and campaigners got onboard with the London Legal Walk, which is a walking event that took place on 18th May.

Thousands of participants travelled from the Royal Courts of Justice to Hyde Park to raise money to support legal aid charities across London and the South East.

Scottish Solicitors Pressurising Home Buyers

14According to new reports, many Scottish solicitors are placing unfair pressure on borrowers, often resulting in scaremongering tactics to home sale missives. It is believed that many legal firms have made a conscious effort to ignore the new mortgage rules that were introduced in April, which speeds up the application process. However, firms are deliberately adding pressure on their clients to push through missives.

Mortgage experts have criticised the firms who are failing to get onboard with the new mortgage market rules, with Alison Mitchell, a mortgage expert at Edinburgh IFA Robson Macintosh, commenting: “they are seriously putting clients at risk by scaremongering in order to sign missives within ten days of the offer, when the fastest time to offer is 17 working days at the moment”.

“Solicitors need to back off and work with advisors and brokers because they are meant to be acting in the borrower’s best interest. How allowing missives to be signed with the means to buy the property is in the borrower’s interest is beyond me.”

As a result, she is encouraging solicitor firms to take responsibility for their actions within the market to take the pressure off borrowers.

Legal Firm Hold Bake-Off for Local Hospice

14Solicitors have a bad reputation for being cold people; however, the staff at Pictons solicitors have helped prove the stereotype is wrong by holding an office bake-off at 2 of its 4 offices in Hemel Hempstead and Tring. Why? To raise money for Hospice of St Francis.

The legal firm raised ££160 for the Northchurch-based hospice, and state they discovered some very talent bakers within the company. The hospice is thrilled with the solicitor’s donation, with its corporate fundraising manager commenting: “It is fantastic when companies like Pictons hold events like this bake-off to raise money on our behalf. It’s a very imaginative way to get staff involved and of course, everyone loves to eat cake”.

It appears charity doesn’t just stop at the hospice for the soliciting firm, as Sukh Sahi stated: “We have lots of fundraising initiatives at Pictons to support the charities and communities in the areas we are based”.

How to Legally Set Up a Mobile Catering Business

14Anyone thinking of making a move into mobile catering need to identify the many laws that regulate the industry before they set up shop. Many people often think setting up a mobile catering business is as easy as buying some supplies and driving a van, but there’s so much more to it than that.

If you want to get your business off to the right start, you must trade legally – which means adhering to the many legal requirements in place. However, we have taken measure to simplify the whole process for you by coming up with a legal checklist that will ensure you receive a license to trade.

You should:

1. Register with your local authority 

  • Register 28 business days before trading with Environmental Health Department within your local authority
  • Register in areas where you will travel to – as well as the place where your business is based
  • You will be inspected by the Environmental Health Department 3 months from trading

2. Register as a business

  • You need to implement a tax and legal structure to operate legally

You will need to decide if you are a Limited Company, Limited Liability Partnership, Partnership or Sole Trader

3. Identify if you need a trading licence

  • You will need a trading licence if you operate on public streets or roadsides
  • You will not need a trading licence if you operate on private land or at events or shows (as long as the organiser has a licence)

4. Perform a Risk Assessment

  • Every food business within the EU must have a Food Safety Risk Assessment based on Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles.
  • Food safety, such as efficient and reliable refrigeration units, health & safety, COSSH, Fire and Safety Employment

So, whether you’re a baked potato, tea and coffee, ice cream, burger, sandwich or street food business, among more mobile catering companies, you should ensure you have taken all the appropriate legal measures before you set up your mobile shop.

Law Firm Backs UK Campaign to Prevent Debt-Related Suicides

02E77262Anyone suffering from debt will suffer from deep shame and stress that can affect both their personal and professional life. This can often lead to sleepless nights, a breakdown in relationships and depression. Unfortunately, many people see suicide as the only option to remove the worries, when there is help out there to help a person take control of their finances.

One UK law firm, Weightmans Solicitors, has therefore decided to back the Campaign for Awareness of Mental Illness Among Debtors (CAMIAD), which aims to if lenders have serious mental health problems, and provide the appropriate support, counselling or treatment.

Weightmans Solicitors therefore plan to host a debt and mental health workshop at their London officers on Friday 25th April, which will highlight the extremities of debt problems. The seminar will also include a special presentation from one of the UK’s most renowned debt advisers, Grant Thorton, who will conclude with the fact that 100% of the lenders surveyed by psychologists claimed to have considered suicide before they sought debt help.

Anyone suffering from debt problems should contact the Money Advice Service or the Citizen’s Advice Service for free debt advice.