The Financial Ombudsman Service has now found that Club La Costa mis-sold timeshare products to consumers and has ordered Barclays Partner Finance (BPF) to repay to them the payments made under their finance agreement. Following this decision, the FOS will now apply this decision to all similar cases and thousands of consumers will benefit from it.
As an interesting side issue arising out of the decision, it was clear that lawyers for BPF had sought to attack the claimant’s case on the basis that they had originally brought the case with the support of an unregulated CMC and that BPF claimed that this CMC’s conduct had been so poor that the Ombudsman should treat any allegations it makes on behalf of its clients with “significant scepticism”. Fortunately for the claimant, the Ombudsman did not accept those arguments and thought there was sufficient evidence available for him to properly consider the complaint despite the clear concerns about the CMC’s conduct particularly as it seems the CMC had been disinstructed by the complainant.
Although the outcome was positive on this occasion, what would have happened if the CMC had continued to act and had failed in their duty to the client? Unlike regulated lawyers, it is highly unlikely that there would have been any professional indemnity cover for the CMC that the client could have made a professional negligence claim against. In addition, unregulated firms are not obliged to operate a complaint handling procedure nor do the clients of unregulated businesses have recourse to continue their complaint to the independent legal services complaints handling body, Legal Ombudsman or to the regulatory body as they are not regulated by any independent body.
It also appears that after their involvement with the timeshare claims that have been criticised by BPF’s lawyers, the company was wound up at the High Court of England & Wales. We do not know the reason for this but in these circumstances, it is highly unlikely that there was any protection for client papers and other assets as there would have been following financial difficulties at regulated firms. Regulatory bodies have powers of intervention that exist to ensure they are able to take over a practice to ensure the best interests of their clients are protected. Unregulated businesses clients do not have the same protections.
Our advice to use only regulated timeshare legal services providers is a warning that we have repeated on a regular basis and the criticism of the unregulated CMC in this decision places our previous warnings in crystal clear context.
Remember that regulated entities are obliged to show a digital badge on their websites that links into their respective regulatory body. If the business does not have a digital badge on the website it is highly unlikely to be subject to any regulatory oversight and your rights of recourse when something goes wrong will be significantly limited.
Sarah Waddington Solicitors have been at the forefront of timeshare law and have worked tirelessly over the past seven years to gain compensation for the victims of mis-selling, including via the FOS. We are fully regulated by the SRA and we have the expertise to properly represent your interests in relation to your timeshare ownership.
If you purchased a timeshare product and want to discuss how you can benefit from this decision and escape paying yearly maintenance fees then do not hesitate contact us on email@example.com or 01924 601 097
Alternativly would like to know just how much compensation you could be owed, then try our free timeshare compensation calculator. The dedicated and experienced team at Sarah Waddington Solicitors are on hand to offer guidance and advice on what to do next so please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to book a free 30 minute consultation to discuss your case.