Changes ahead for regulation of consumer credit and other CCUA news

On the 1 April 2014 responsibility for regulating consumer credit transfers from the Office of Fair Trading to the Financial Conduct Authority. The new regime will be designed to focus on higher risk firms. Lower risk firms will not have to meet such onerous standards and will pay lower fees. The FCA will also have different enforcement powers to the OFT. Further information can be found at http://www.fca.org.uk.

On 6 April 2014 the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 will come into force. A few of the main changes will be:

• “Tools of the Trade” will be limited to a value of £1,350
• Officers will be required to give 7 clear days notice before a visit
• Officers will not longer be allowed to enter a residential premises via open window or skylight
• Hours of entry to a residential premise will be limited to 6am-9pm

Volunteers (still) needed

Becoming involved with the CCUA is a great way to take positive action to gain improvements in the court service. Probably the easiest way to assist the Association would be to respond to any surveys emailed to us asking for our views on the service we are receiving from the courts. Monitoring the results ensures the Associate can provide valuable feedback and highlight the problem areas to those concerned.

As this will be my last blog (well, at least for some time to come…) we also need new bloggers to step forward to provide regular updates which help the CCUA provide social media content. This doesn’t take up too much time and really is a worthwhile effort.

Regional meetings….

South West Region – next meeting will take place on 29 April 2014 at the offices of Burgess Salmon in Bristol and will include a presentation on insolvency matters by Olivier Kalfon from Enterprise Chambers.

Northern Region – next meeting will take place on 5 June 2014 at Harrison High Court Enforcement and C.W.Harrison & Son Auctioneers, Ossett nr Wakefield.

Greater London/South East Region – next meeting will take place on 12 June 2014 at BDO offices in Baker Street, London.

Central Region – next meeting will take place on 24 June 2014 at KPMG, Snows Hill, Birmingham.

Diary dates for 2014

The Annual Conference 2014 will take place on 21 October 2014 and will be held at the Leicester Marriott Hotel. The AGM will take place the following day. Senior Master Whitaker will be speaking and as before it is hoped Paul Lewis will host a Question Time Panel for some lively debate!

Author: Christine Power FCILEx – specialising in Debt Recovery at Lightfoots LLP

Is the economic cake now rising?

Signs of recovery

We all know what happens when you bake a cake with plain flour and forget to put the baking powder into it. It comes out rather flat, leaden and unappetising.

Just like our economy over the past few years. However, I’m beginning to see signs of recovery, are you?  Confidence is to the economy what baking powder is to cakes.  It’s the tiniest ingredient, but absolutely essential for success.

Rising figures

I noted recently that the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ June figures show that lending was up a huge 26% on the same month in 2012.  The quantity of goods sold at retail level is up 2.2% to June (ONS), small yet significant if sustained across the whole sector. So it looks hopeful.

At Lovetts, we’ve seen more companies prepared to ‘get tough’ with their customers, with our July Claims showing the strongest month since mid 2011. This makes me think that companies are more confident in their own future, and that they can safely take legal action against their customers, without that ‘fear’ of finding themselves bereft of business.

‘Fear’ and ‘confidence’ are probably more significant in business than anything else.  It is easy to blame the banks and rightly so. Even today’s headlines show that the cost of putting right the PPI scandal is over £18 billion, twice the entire cost of the Olympic Games!  But even without bank support for business, confidence can lead to winning ways.

It is the same in Credit control.  How confident is the CEO in getting future business, so he/she will allow the FD and credit manager to go strong on recovering outstanding funds?  More confident now, it seems to me.

Beware…

But beware – companies, particularly SMEs, are prone to struggle for cash as they start growing again.  Most small businesses underestimate the liquidity required for even single figure % growth in Sales. So they’ll hold onto the creditor’s money for longer, particularly as their banks will not yet have loosened their lending strings.

So the cake is cooking nicely we trust, but none of us can afford to take our eyes off ledger overdues lest we get our fingers burnt just when things look more positive.

Author: Charles Wilson, CEO of Lovetts plc, Debt recovery solicitors

Troubled times

November saw two meetings at Petty France; firstly our regular meeting with HMCTS followed by a meeting with policy officials at the MOJ a few days later.

The HMCTS meeting went well although we did express our concerns over the CCMCC at Salford, for full details see my notes of the meeting on the members linked in site; the minutes are produced by HMCTS and be available shortly.

Having stayed overnight in London, next day I attended the London/South East Regional meeting of the Association in the morning. It was good to see potential new members at the meeting and also to be approached by current members volunteering their assistance.

If you are reading this note and are not yet a member then contact our administrator on claires@ccua.org.uk to obtain details of the next regional meeting closest to your office and come along to see what goes on. You never know you may find it interesting and want to join the association to have your voice heard.

After the regional meeting I got the train to Manchester for the Debt Recovery Awards, the host, Ruby Wax, was very good and the evening went well. Well done to all those who were nominated for the awards and congratulations to the winners. As a judge I can say there were some very good entries and the discussions took some time.

The next day saw me back on the train to London to visit clients and then in the evening attending the 125th anniversary dinner of the High Court Enforcement Officers Association, a very good event in excellent surroundings. Finally I got home on the Saturday lunchtime, just a shame you cannot get train miles as I would have clocked up a few.

The meeting with MOJ was to discuss the Association consultation on the increase in the small claims limit. The meeting did not go well as it is clearly government policy to increase the limit despite the views of the professionals that to increase it will cause major issues.

We have asked for a meeting with the Minister and the Chairman of the Legal & Technical committee, Jeremy Chaplin is driving this forward.

The day following this meeting I chaired the CCUA council meeting and it was good to see two of the regional vice chairs in attendance, together with the vice chair of the CCBC user group.

We received confirmation that our next House of Lords dinner has been set for Monday 8th April; we are currently awaiting confirmation of the guest speaker, further details to follow.

After the formal business discussion took place on plans for the Association and ideas that came forward show that the 25th anniversary year will be very productive in ensuring the interests of users are put before the government. We have a committed group of officers and they are as keen as I am to see that we get value for money for the fees we pay.

As this is the last note before the end of the year may I take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy (and prosperous) New Year.

October: A month of conferences, meetings and a trip down under.

October has been a very busy month starting with the CCRi conference in London where I chaired the Litigation stream.

The Association had a stand ably manned (if that is the correct word) by Jacky Cooper and it was good to meet so many members.

A week later I attended the South West regional meeting and am pleased to confirm that Kat Quinton has now taken on the mantle as vice chairman to assist Martin Wood. Whilst it may only be a small group they are very keen and I am certain Martin and Kat will begin to generate more interest in the area.

Of course the big event was our conference on 16th and I am very grateful to all those who took part and the organising committee. The comments from those who attended were extremely favourable.  I am certain everyone finds it useful to hear from the officials the reasons for problems and the proposals to improve the service. The survey on users attitudes to the Courts has received considerable coverage from the trade press and will be something we will be doing on a regular basis; thanks to those who took the trouble to complete it.

The conference dinner was an excellent occasion and the guest speaker Adam Parsons, the broadcaster, regaled us with stories from the Olympics. It was however interesting to hear that as a claimant he had dealings with the county court and he was far from complimentary about their service; unfortunately he had suffered at the hands of Central London and all those present sympathised with him.

Once the dinner was over the delegates retired to the bar but sadly as I had to go to London early the next morning I was unable to stay until the end (whatever time that was).

My working month then ended as the following week my wife and I jetted off to Melbourne to visit our son and daughter in law; and excellent time was had especially visiting the wine cellars in the Yarra Valley, but that is another story.

November sees meetings planned with the Ministry; firstly on our bi monthly liaison group meeting and secondly to discuss our paper on Small Claims. We have asked to see the Minister to provide her with our views on that and on the service in general, we hope to have the audience in the near future.

The CCUA Conference 2012 – nearly there…

Nearly there

With days to the Annual conference everything looks to be moving along smoothly.

The list of speakers is excellent and I am sure there will be lively debate; Amir Ali and his team have done very well to put together such a vibrant programme.

At the beginning of the month a meeting was held with HMCTS over the number of increasing issues that appeared to be coming from members over the service being received from the Courts in all areas. We provided them with general views and they appeared to accept that they could do much better. Hopefully we will hear more from the HMCTS representatives at the conference on their plans to improve the service.

I attended the Credit Services Association conference as a guest and found it most interesting; the keynote speaker, a financial journalist, had some very sombre views on the economy. I then attended the Northern regional meeting the following week and some very useful ideas came from the group meetings that were held and I am certain the regional chairman will act on them.

Council met on 18th September and details will be on the members section shortly. I advised council that, subject to being elected again, I propose to make next year my last one as Chairman. It is time to hand over to new blood to drive the Association further forward.

The following day the long awaited meeting of the Bulk Centre user group was held and delegates were given the opportunity to hear what is proposed on case numbering and bulk transfer. A smaller group is being set up to consider the issues and is a cross section of the industries and firms represented at the meeting. In addition another meeting for software houses is proposed. From the Association point of view it is a shame that such a meeting was not held many months ago as it appears HMCTS may be on a tight timetable when it comes to IT work being carried out. The last thing users want is for something to be rushed through that helps no-one.

The proposal in the consultation paper on the opposition to the increase in small claims issued by the Association has received a considerable amount of support. Only two members did not accept the proposals but all others did and we have also received valuable support from the Institute of Credit Management, Law Society, CILEX and the Bar Council. Jeremy Chaplin the chairman of the Legal & Technical Committee has produced a very detailed argument in opposition to the increase. We are now looking to arrange a meeting with the Ministry of Justice and then the new Minister.

Finally at the end of the month the Central region meeting was most enjoyable with a talk from barrister Simon Clegg at St Philips Chambers on the imminent Jackson reforms, much food for thought.

Hopefully I will see many of you at the conference on Tuesday.

 

 

Brides, fire alarms and some court business too – This month’s CCUA Chairman’s Review

The month of May has been a most memorable month mainly because of my daughter’s wedding.

We were most lucky as the weather was superb and the guests enjoyed the pig roast, barn dance and the beer.  Of course, Claire looked beautiful and it was a very proud day for me and my wife.

The month started off with my speaking at a seminar organised by the Westminster Legal Policy Forum on the subject of the changes under the Transforming Justice paper. The forum has several MPs as patrons and I have taken the opportunity to write to them advising them of the Association and its’ objectives; I have received a response from one of them and am intending to have a meeting with him in July.

The forum is interested in the issues raised by the recent paper on bailiff regulation and is hoping to arrange a seminar on the subject at the beginning of next year.

Following the meeting I then attended the Ministry of Justice to discuss the proposals for case numbering. Having registered at reception the fire alarm then sounded and together with the 1000+ staff I moved to St James Park to await the call to return to the office.  After about 20 minutes and no news it was decided that the meeting could continue at the local hostelry and so we concluded the discussion over drinks.

The meeting was arranged ahead of the County Court Bulk Centre user group meeting in June. We were advised 12 months ago that case numbers were running out and the purpose of the meeting was to review their proposals. Unfortunately it appeared that their suggestions were not user friendly. The matter was to be discussed at the user group meeting in June, where as expected the response from members to the proposals was not overwhelming and a series of regional meetings are to be arranged in July to consider the implications.

The following day I was back at the Ministry for an update on any future plans. Sadly it appears that the government is committed to increase the small claims limit and the Association is intending to make our views known as to the impact this will have.

I am afraid this is another example of the views of the court users being disregarded.

Another issue that is causing concern is the requirement for all enforcement officers to provide a 7 day notice of intention to attend. The response from members is that this will reduce the effectiveness of the process. It is not as though a Defendant does not receive sufficient notice, be it letter of claim, claim form and judgment. Again the Association is intending to express its members’ views at the highest level.

Finally at the end of the month I was a guest at the Institute of Legal Executives Presidents luncheon in London. The Association continues to seek to strengthen its’ ties with professional bodies and a meeting has recently been held with Peter Wallwork from the Credit Services Association to consider what issues we can jointly act on.

So another busy month and for those of you considering whether the Civil Court Users Association might be a useful organisation to become a member of, well I hope I’ve provided you here with a flavour of the level of effort we put in the help secure a better court service for our members.

Best wishes

Brian

Brian Havercroft
Chairman – CCUA

Membership of the CCUA is by approval. For more information on how to apply please follow this link   http://www.ccua.org.uk/join.php

The Chairman’s Review for March 2012

March has been a busy month

It began with the Northern regional meeting being held at the new money claim centre in Salford and following the normal formalities those of us present were taken on a guided tour of the facility.

It is clear that the management and staff do want the centre to work but they are working under considerable strain and, personally, I was surprised at the sheer volume of paper that they are dealing with.

As you will be aware it went fully live on 19th March and if any members have any issues they should let the association know by sending details to info@ccua.org.uk. We will then feed this information through to the management to have the problems resolved.

On a slightly more positive note I was delighted to present the CCUA sponsored award for the highest mark in the ILEX Debt & Insolvency Paper on the 29thMarch. This course is sponsored by the Association and is given in the name of Steve Morris who was a valued member of the CCUA. The annual award goes to the student achieving the highest mark in the course. An award of £200 was presented to Anna Madden who works for member company Arrow Global at the ILEX Manchester region meeting.

On another note, I am encouraged to witness the evolution of our LinkedIn and Twitter social media activity, with our main LinkedIn group now close to 100 members (in less than 2 months) and our Twitter following now at 122 followers (not quite Lady Ga Ga’s level but we’re growing).

Just a reminder that the CCUA’s annual conference will be held on October 16th at the Leicester Marriot Hotel, we will shortly be publishing full details, including speaker line up. I would encourage everyone to invite non CCUA members connected to the legal industry to come along to this event especially ILEX members.

At the Civil Court Users Association’s 2012 House of Lords dinner held recently in the Cholmondeley Room in the House of Lords, the main speaker was the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury. He acknowledged the importance of the Civil Court Users Association and stated that the organisation should continue to remain involved in ensuring the interests of Claimants are considered.

It was excellent to hear the comments from Lord Neuberger and during the evening he asked that I speak to his office to arrange a meeting to allow further discussion to take place. It is another example of the important links the Association is forming in its endeavours to have Claimants’ views heard in order to ensure an effective court service.

In closing and just to prove that I am putting myself about, on behalf of CCUA members, as much as I possibly can, I have been invited to attend as a guest of Her Majesty’s Association of District Judges annual dinner on 30th April. This is yet another example of the fact that the CCUA is highly regarded and has the ear of those at the highest level in the Court Service.

Well, it’s time to go hide those eggs so I’d like to wish everyone a very happy Easter.

Brian

Brian Havercroft
Chairman