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Bank-Smart Small Claims Court Letter

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  • Bank-Smart Small Claims Court Letter

    Hi,

    I really am hoping someone can help me here or point me in the right direction? In 2008 I engaged with Bank-Smart claims management company to, I believe, reclaim unfair bank charges but I might be mistaken as it has been so long ago, I also can not remember if I contacted them or if I responded to a marketing advert. I do remember receiving some forms to complete and then didn't hear anything for ages. In 2009 the courts ruled that overdraft charges couldn't be challenged and then I suddenly received an invoice from Bank-Smart (this is why I think my engagement was for unfair bank charges and not a PPI claim, plus I never took out loans / cards with PPI so why would I have tried to claim?). I believed the engagement was no win no fee but again, I can't be sure because it was so long ago. I seem to remember receiving a number of letters over the following year and eventually writing to them explaining that I had not actually received anything and believed that the claim was invalid due to the court ruling, I also remember asking for all the information held on me, I think I even enclosed a postal order to cover the admin charges.
    I then heard nothing for a couple of years when suddenly the invoices started again. I ignored them and the letters stopped. Then they started again but I continued to ignore them (this is between probably 2010 and 2013).
    In November 2015 I received a letter from Penham excel enforcement agents which stated they had been instructed by Bank-Smart to collect the debt of over 1k in relation to a successful PPI claim (I have not received any PPI claim). On the back of the letter was a breakdown of charges but without description, just Sundry debt and reference numbers and the total value didn't match the value on the front of the letter.
    Because I was due to move house but not sure of the new address (had to leave rented accommodation but hadn't transferred contracts on the new house purchase), I emailed Penham explaining this and also that I dispute the claims for the debt. I explained that the only communication I could have was via email and that I wouldn't discuss it over the phone as I wanted hard evidence of any communication. I never heard from them or Bank-Smart and ended up moving out in the December.

    Suddenly in September 2017 at my new address I received a letter addressed to me from Bank-Smart stating that they have 'enclosed a credit file request form that will allow you to obtain a copy of your own credit file that can reduce the risks that can cause delays to claims' - I ignored this.

    Then yesterday I received another letter titled 'Legal proceeding to be issued against you in court'
    It basically states they are taking me to the small claims court unless I pay a value just over 1k and I have 30 days to complete the 'reply form' and a summary of earnings. It has a breakdown of invoices, 7 in total, all are recognisable accounts I have previously held. 6 of them are for 99.00 + vat and another for 265 + vat, there is also debt collection charges and interest too which takes it to over 2k. The invoice dates range from 2 in 2008, 1 in 2009, 3 in 2011 and 1 in 2012 and the descriptions are either 'Costs - Reduced (FOS)' x 3 or 'Commission and Costs - offer [contract breach]' x 4. I do not have any other documentation or paper work, including the letter I sent them back in +/- 2010 or signed contract - why would I, it was 9 years ago.... Also, back in 2010 I was struggling financially and would never, ever, have knowingly signed up to something that would have cost me if they couldn't make a claim, especially at 99 / 265 per account.

    So they questions I have are....
    1. Can they actually take me to the small claims court to recover something from 2009?
    2. What are my options? I can't afford to pay the amount they are demanding and quite frankly do not want to either as I do not agree with the charges
    3. I have nothing to reference but at the same time do not want to make contact with them to then get inundated with letters and phone calls (it is already making me feel ill)
    4. If it goes to court, what happens? do I have to appear? do I need a solicitor - can't afford that either?


    Thank you in advance...
    Tags: None

  • #2
    Re: Bank-Smart Small Claims Court Letter

    Hi & welcome.

    I'll respond to this tomorrow.

    I like your pin shot
    I keep it with your letter
    Done up in blueprint blue
    It sure looks good on you
    And when you smile for the camera
    I know I'll love you better

    Then the shutter falls
    You see it all in 3-D
    It's your favorite foreign movie

    'Peg'

    Donald Jay Fagen

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Bank-Smart Small Claims Court Letter

      Ok briefly (as I'm on my way out) it's very doubtful that they could succeed in a court claim as the 'debt' would almost certainly be statute barred under the Limitations Act (6 years).

      What you need to do is make a formal complaint which, if they reject, allows you to take you complaint to the Legal Ombusdman who I'm pretty sure would uphold your complaint.

      I'd like to see the last letter from Bank Smart, could you e-mail it to me and by all means redact any personal information if you wish.
      Last edited by EXC; 8th October 2017, 23:15:PM.

      I like your pin shot
      I keep it with your letter
      Done up in blueprint blue
      It sure looks good on you
      And when you smile for the camera
      I know I'll love you better

      Then the shutter falls
      You see it all in 3-D
      It's your favorite foreign movie

      'Peg'

      Donald Jay Fagen

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Bank-Smart Small Claims Court Letter

        Got it - thanks.

        Firstly I really wouldn't worry. This is typical of Bank Smart. They bombard their customers with requests for information and rely on a clause in their contracts which they believe allows them to levy invoices for 'breach of contract' if they don't provide it.

        Notwithstanding they'd have a tough time justifing such charges in court, of the list of 'invoices' there is only one (dated 9/8/2012 for 99) that wouldn't be statute barred under the Limitations Act and they will know this but they're just taking a punt hoping that you won't know and be intimidated to pay up. In my view it's unlikely they would actually issue a claim. However you don't want them (or debt collectors) hounding you for the rest of your life so we need to be pro-active in nipping this in the bud, so I suggest we do the following in the following sequence:

        1) Make a formal complaint to Bank Smart. Under the complaints handling rules they have 8 weeks to issue a final response, at which point you can forward your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman who I am fairly confident will uphold it. It's a free service and the Ombudsman's decision is legally binding. If you'd like I can post up a draft of a complaint for you which we can tweak as neccesary.

        2) Talk to the Claims Management Regulator. LegalBeagles are a stakeholder with the Claims Management Regulator (CMR) and earlier this year we submitted a report to them about Bank Smart's conduct with case studies of people like yourself and thankfully they put Bank Smart under formal investigation which is still ongoing https://www.claimsregulation.gov.uk/details.aspx/4036

        They've asked us to put them in touch with anyone who has issues with Bank Smart to assist in their investigation which I would reccomend you did. It certainly wouldn't hinder your chances of Bank Smart backing down if they knew that your issue was being looked at by the regulator. I suggest that I send them an intoductory e-mail (copying you in) and they can deal with you directly. I've sent you their request to us for case studies so you know it's legit.

        3) I suggest that we wait until just before the 30 days (3 November) we have to return the pre-action protocol reply form to Bank Smart. That way we can string out any potential court action for as long as possible while the complaint is being dealt with and hopefully done & dusted before they could file a claim, although as I said I think it's unlikely that they will. We'll simply tick the box disputing the 'debt' and request the agreement, invoices etc.

        I like your pin shot
        I keep it with your letter
        Done up in blueprint blue
        It sure looks good on you
        And when you smile for the camera
        I know I'll love you better

        Then the shutter falls
        You see it all in 3-D
        It's your favorite foreign movie

        'Peg'

        Donald Jay Fagen

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Bank-Smart Small Claims Court Letter

          Thank you so much for your quick reply and assistance with this matter, it really is appreciated. Reading the above was like a ton of weight being lifted off my shoulders, knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that Bank-Smart's conduct is being formally investigated.
          Any assistance you could provide in relation to a letter of complaint would be received with open arms... I am happy to compile something but not having any form of legal background, I am not sure how it would need to be structured or what is / isn't relevant.
          I am happy for you to submit my details and the email attachments I have sent you to the CMR, but unfortunately what I have sent you is all I have in terms of correspondence, although I suppose I could request the original T&C's off the back of the pre-action protocol or letter of complaint?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Bank-Smart Small Claims Court Letter

            Draft complaint.

            FORMAL COMPLAINT

            Dear Sirs

            This is a formal complaint for which I expect you to deal with in accordance with your complaints handling procedures and the complaints handling rules of the Claims Management Regulator, which are, acknowledgement of my complaint within 5 business days and a final response within 8 weeks.

            Please be aware that should I not be entirely satisfied with the handling or outcome of my complaint I fully intend to take my complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.

            Additionally I have submitted the details of my complaint together with documentation to the investigating officer at the Claims Management Regulator who is supervising their investigation into the conduct of your company.

            This complaint is in 3 parts and I expect you to deal with each of them individually.

            COMPLAINT

            1) In 2008 I entered into an agreement with Bank Smart to claim 'unfair' bank charges. In November 2009 the Supreme Court ruled that, effectively, unfair bank charges could no longer be claimed, meaning that my agreement with you would have naturally concluded as you were no longer capable of providing claims management services in respect of them.

            However, having taken advice on the matter I now understand that the Financial Conduct Authority had issued a complaints handling waiver on bank charges complaints/claims in July 2007 pending the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling. This means that even at the point I contracted you to claim the charges, you were in fact never in a position to provide me with claims management services in any event. Therefore the contract wasn't just breached, it was never valid.

            2) On 5 October 2017 you wrote to me threatening legal action for payment of 1202.68. You provided a brief list of 7 invoices, dated between 2008 and 2012, incoherently labelled ''commission and costs offer contract breach'' and '''costs-reduced (FOS)''.

            Notwithstanding that we have no valid contractual agreement you have not even attempted justify what the invoices relate to, what services you have provided in respect of them or, in the cases of the 'contract breach' invoices, what contractual term was 'breached' and how the sums were calculated and attributed.

            On 10 December 2015, Penham Excel Enforcement Agents wrote to me on your behalf demanding payment of the same sum (1202.68) but this time ''in relation to your successful PPI claim''. I have never had, claimed or received compensation for PPI and I believe that this is simply another example of crudely administered speculative invoicing.

            3) The letterhead of your correspondence of 5 October falsely bears the accreditation logo of the 'Claims Management Council', an organisation which does not exist and has not done so since it was wound up in 2012.

            As indicated above should I not be entirely satisfied with the handling or outcome of my complaint I fully intend to take my complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.


            Last edited by EXC; 11th October 2017, 11:51:AM.

            I like your pin shot
            I keep it with your letter
            Done up in blueprint blue
            It sure looks good on you
            And when you smile for the camera
            I know I'll love you better

            Then the shutter falls
            You see it all in 3-D
            It's your favorite foreign movie

            'Peg'

            Donald Jay Fagen

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Bank-Smart Small Claims Court Letter

              See above draft -check it for accuracy and let me know what you think.

              You can e-mail it to complaints@bank-smart.co.uk

              But I would also send it by registered mail to:

              Bank-Smart Service Quality
              First Floor, Building A
              Green Court
              Truro Business Park
              TR4 9LF

              I like your pin shot
              I keep it with your letter
              Done up in blueprint blue
              It sure looks good on you
              And when you smile for the camera
              I know I'll love you better

              Then the shutter falls
              You see it all in 3-D
              It's your favorite foreign movie

              'Peg'

              Donald Jay Fagen

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Bank-Smart Small Claims Court Letter

                Brilliant - Once again, thank you for your assistance. I will probably add a couple of lines highlighting the inaccuracies of the Penham letter too. Do you think I should send this sooner rather than later or as previously mentioned, hold off until approx. 30th October and send it then, also explaining I have sought legal advice and request all information being held?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Bank-Smart Small Claims Court Letter

                  Originally posted by blue1875 View Post
                  Brilliant - Once again, thank you for your assistance. I will probably add a couple of lines highlighting the inaccuracies of the Penham letter too. Do you think I should send this sooner rather than later or as previously mentioned, hold off until approx. 30th October and send it then, also explaining I have sought legal advice and request all information being held?
                  I would send off the complaint ASAP. They have a regulatory obligation to deal with the complaint and ultimately it would be much more advantageous to you to have the issue dealt with by the Legal Ombudsman rather than a court.

                  We don't need the information for the complaint, at least not yet anyway, so we'll request it via the relpy form just before the 30 day deadline. Once it's requested the pre-action protocols prevent them from issuing a claim for at least another 30 days. If and when they issue a claim the Legal Ombudsman cannot accept the complaint so ideally we need to get it to the Obudsman befrore Bank Smart get the chance. Doing it this way round we get 2 bites of the cherry i.e. if in the unlikely event the Ombudsman doesn't uphold the complaint you still have the opportunity to defend in court if need be.

                  This is a belt & braces approach really, as I said I'd be surprised if Bank Smart didn't throw in the towel before it gets to the Ombudsman, let alone court.

                  I like your pin shot
                  I keep it with your letter
                  Done up in blueprint blue
                  It sure looks good on you
                  And when you smile for the camera
                  I know I'll love you better

                  Then the shutter falls
                  You see it all in 3-D
                  It's your favorite foreign movie

                  'Peg'

                  Donald Jay Fagen

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Bank-Smart Small Claims Court Letter

                    I would send off the complaint ASAP. They have a regulatory obligation to deal with the complaint and ultimately it would be much more advantageous to you to have the issue dealt with by the Legal Ombudsman rather than a court.
                    I have sent it by recorded delivery so should be with them tomorrow. I will update if/when I receive a reply.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Bank-Smart Small Claims Court Letter

                      Originally posted by blue1875 View Post
                      I have sent it by recorded delivery so should be with them tomorrow. I will update if/when I receive a reply.
                      Ok good. We'll need to do your pre- action reply by the beginning of November so I'll help you draft it nearer the time.

                      I like your pin shot
                      I keep it with your letter
                      Done up in blueprint blue
                      It sure looks good on you
                      And when you smile for the camera
                      I know I'll love you better

                      Then the shutter falls
                      You see it all in 3-D
                      It's your favorite foreign movie

                      'Peg'

                      Donald Jay Fagen

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Bank-Smart Small Claims Court Letter

                        I yesterday received confirmation of receipt of the complaint. It states that complaints are currently taking on average 7 weeks to provide a final response and that, apart from a letter explaining if there will be a delay after 4 weeks, I may not receive any other communication from them.
                        It also offers me the option of discussing and having the complaint resolved informally within 5 working days - which I will not accept.

                        Incidentally, all pages are still brandishing the 'claims standards council' logo.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Bank-Smart Small Claims Court Letter

                          Regardless of what they say about the delay or the further 4 weeks, if they don't issue a final response to your complaint within 8 weeks from when you made it you can then go to the Legal Ombudsman.

                          I like your pin shot
                          I keep it with your letter
                          Done up in blueprint blue
                          It sure looks good on you
                          And when you smile for the camera
                          I know I'll love you better

                          Then the shutter falls
                          You see it all in 3-D
                          It's your favorite foreign movie

                          'Peg'

                          Donald Jay Fagen

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by EXC View Post
                            Re: Bank-Smart Small Claims Court Letter

                            Regardless of what they say about the delay or the further 4 weeks, if they don't issue a final response to your complaint within 8 weeks from when you made it you can then go to the Legal Ombudsman.
                            So - slightly longer than 8 weeks, but only by a couple of days, I received a letter stating that they would not be pressuring the matter any further. Due to the m no longer operating the minimum free contract and length of time it has been ongoing.

                            I can't thank you enough for you assistance with this and the huge amount of stress that was lifted once I received this letter.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Well done.

                              I'd be interested in seeing the letter. Could you post it up or send it to me at nick@legalbeaglesgroup.com thanks.

                              I like your pin shot
                              I keep it with your letter
                              Done up in blueprint blue
                              It sure looks good on you
                              And when you smile for the camera
                              I know I'll love you better

                              Then the shutter falls
                              You see it all in 3-D
                              It's your favorite foreign movie

                              'Peg'

                              Donald Jay Fagen

                              Comment

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                              LegalBeagles helps you compare CMCs on price and ratings of claims management companies that offer to help reclaim PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) or other financial products.


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