MPs quiz banks over bogus law firms

Print This Post

16 July 2014


Tyrie: we need to know the extent of this practice

The row over companies sending letters to customers in debt that falsely appear to be from independent solicitors’ firms, rather than their in-house lawyers, is set to rumble on after the Treasury select committee demanded information from the main high street banks about their activities.

Andrew Tyrie MP, who chairs the committee, has written to the bosses of RBS, Lloyds, Barclays and HSBC over reports that they have all used such tactics.

He has asked for details of how many letters were sent, to whom, and why they chose to send letters in this form, rather than marked clearly as being from the bank.

While seeking the banks’ views as to whether the letters were misleading, Mr Tyrie requested a copy of a typical letter sent out “so that the Treasury committee can form its own judgement on whether it is sufficiently clear”.

Mr Tyrie said: “We need to know the extent of this practice. Banks have repeatedly assured Parliament that they are raising standards and now have robust procedures in place to bring consumer detriment to an end. It would be extremely concerning if consumers had been routinely misled.”

RBS has already agreed to stop using solicitor-sounding names for letters, recognising that the practice can be confusing for consumers.

In a statement it said: “Our customers should never be in any doubt about who they are communicating with. We have reviewed our policies in this area and will stop the use of any solicitor or debt collection brand names in correspondence with our customers that could cause confusion.”

The furore began when for using bogus law firms. Last week the Solicitors Regulation Authority warned in-house solicitors that “attempts to mislead” debtors that external firms are taking steps against them could result in disciplinary action.

Tags:



Leave a comment

* Denotes required field

All comments will be moderated before posting. Please see our Terms and Conditions

Legal Futures Blog

New right to paid leave for bereaved parents: A welcome move

Kimberley Manning DAS

This year, like many in recent years, has seen some key changes within the employment law field, with the government, trade unions and lobbyists remaining endlessly engaged in seeking to impose their interpretation of fair balance between employers and their respective workforces. Although consensus on that equilibrium can never really be achieved, sometimes there are pieces of legislative movement which are difficult to argue with regardless of your perspective: This is one of those. Published on 13 October 2017, the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill would provide for the first time a legal right to parents who are employed and have suffered the death of a child, a minimum of two weeks’ leave in which to grieve.

November 20th, 2017