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    Default The Lending Code

    http://www.lendingstandardsboard.org...endingcode.pdf

    The Lending Code
    Setting standards for banks, building societies and credit card
    providers
    November 2009
    2
    To discuss this code you can contact:
    British Bankers’ Association
    Pinners Hall
    105-108 Old Broad Street
    London
    EC2N 1EX
    Email: [email protected]
    Tel: 020 7216 8800
    Building Societies Association
    6th Floor, York House
    23 Kingsway
    London
    WC2B 6UJ
    Email: [email protected]
    Tel: 020 7520 5900
    UK Cards Association
    5th Floor, Mercury House, Triton Court
    14 Finsbury Square
    London
    EC2A 1LQ
    Email / contact through the website:
    UK Cards Association - Homepage
    3
    Contents
    Introduction 4
    Section 1 Key commitments 5
    Section 2 Communications and financial promotions 6
    Section 3 Credit reference agencies 8
    Section 4 Credit assessment 9
    Section 5 Current accounts overdrafts 10
    Section 6 Credit cards 12
    Section 7 Loans 17
    Section 8 Terms and conditions 19
    Section 9 Financial difficulties 20
    Section 10 Complaints 25
    Section 11 Monitoring 25
    Annex A Summary box for unsecured loans 26
    Annex B Statement of Principles for micro-enterprises 30



    4
    Introduction
    1. This is a self-regulatory Lending Code setting minimum standards of good practice when dealing with the following
    customers in the UK:
    • Consumers;
    • Micro-enterprises1; or
    • Charities with an annual income of less than £1 million.
    2. The Lending Code covers good practice in relation to:
    • loans;
    • credit cards;
    • charge cards2; and
    • current account overdrafts.
    It does not apply to merchant services, non-business borrowing secured on land, or to sales finance.
    3. The Code applies to lending in sterling. However, subscribers are not precluded from applying the Code’s standards to
    lending in other currencies.
    4. Compliance with the terms of this Code is independently monitored and enforced by the Lending Standards Board
    (LSB). A list of subscribers to the Code and contact details for the LSB can be found at
    Lending Standards Board.
    5. This Code has not been reviewed by the FSA and the FSA will not have regard to this Code when exercising its
    regulatory functions.
    6. This Code sets standards of good lending practice but subscribers must - at all times - ensure they are compliant with
    the Consumer Credit Acts and associated Regulations as well as other relevant legislation (such as the Payment
    Services Regulations (PSRs) and, for consumers, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations).
    7. It is important that, when considering how the Code will affect products and services, all delivery channels are catered
    for. The Code applies regardless of how a product or service is delivered.
    8. It is the responsibility of subscribers to ensure that any third party or agent acting on their behalf complies with the Code
    in relation to any products or services covered by this Code.
    9. Subscribers should make information available to customers to inform them that the subscriber follows the Lending
    Code. This should include providing a link to the Code on the subscriber’s website and, where appropriate, making
    reference to the Code within relevant literature (for example, within an account-opening pack). The subscriber’s website
    and relevant literature should be amended to include reference to this Code within a six month transitional period that
    ends on 30 April 2010.
    10. Unless otherwise specified all references in this Code to ‘customer’ or ‘customers’ apply to personal and microenterprise
    customers.
    11. This Code uses the terms ‘provide’, ‘give’, ‘tell’ and ‘make available’ interchangeably. These terms are not defined to
    specify how information is made accessible to the customer. Instead, firms should determine the most appropriate way
    for customers to access information at the right time in order to make informed decisions.
    12. However, where this Code requires that certain information is given to customers ‘personally’, this means that some
    form of notification is given or sent to them, rather than being told by a general notice or advertisement. Such
    notification could be made by letter, by e-mail or by an alternative method that reflects the manner in which the product
    or service is normally operated.
    1 A micro-enterprise is defined as a business that employs fewer than 10 persons and has a turnover or annual balance sheet that does not exceed €2
    million. For more information see http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/enter...user_guide.pdf
    2 Charge cards are subject to the Key Commitments and general provisions of this Code, where a requirement is not specific to another product.
    5
    Section 1: Key commitments
    13. Subscribers will act fairly and reasonably in all their dealings with customers by, as a minimum, meeting all the
    commitments and standards in this Code. The key commitments are shown below.
    • Subscribers will make sure that advertising and promotional literature is fair, clear and not misleading and
    that customers are given clear information about products and services.
    • Customers will be given clear information about accounts and services, how they work, their terms and
    conditions and the interest rates that apply to them.
    • Regular statements will be made available to customers (if appropriate). Customers will also be informed
    about changes to the interest rates, charges or terms and conditions.
    • Subscribers will lend money responsibly.
    • Subscribers will deal quickly and sympathetically with things that go wrong and act sympathetically and
    positively when considering a customer’s financial difficulties.
    • Personal information will be treated as private and confidential, and subscribers will provide secure and
    reliable banking and payment systems.
    • Subscribers will make sure their staff are trained to put this Code into practice.
    6
    Section 2: Communications and financial
    promotions
    14. This section applies to financial promotions for lending products and services and communications to customers
    during the lifetime of the product or service.
    15. The key consideration for subscribers is to ensure communications are clear, fair and not misleading and that
    customers are provided with appropriate information at the right time in order to make informed decisions.
    16. Subscribers should ensure that financial promotions are compliant with relevant advertising legislation and industry
    codes of practice, such as the Consumer Credit (Advertisements) Regulations 2004 and the Committee of Advertising
    Practice Codes.
    17. For promotions to personal customers that are made at a distance subscribers should follow the requirements of the
    Financial Services (Distance Marketing) Regulations 2004.
    18. For direct sales of credit cards, subscribers should follow the relevant UK Cards Association best practice guidelines,
    which can be found at UK Cards Association - Best practice guidelines
    19. For some unsecured personal loans, key product information within financial promotions and pre-sale information
    should be available in a standard summary box. Details of which promotions and communications are covered and
    the format of the summary box are included in Annex A (p.26).
    20. To ensure financial promotions and communications are clear, fair and not misleading subscribers should have regard
    to:
    • presenting information in plain language and wherever possible avoiding the use of technical or legal
    language
    • the way the communication or financial promotion is being made e.g. direct mail, letter, email, text
    message, branch or web material
    • the type and complexity of information that is being presented, the actions the information might elicit from
    the customer, the channels by which the information is accessible and the passage of time, if any, since
    the information was last provided
    • the appropriate format and content of the communication based on its intended audience. For instance, a
    communication to a personal customer might include different information to that for a micro-enterprise,
    where needs may differ.
    21. Micro-enterprise customers should be given a copy of the BBA Statement of Principles3 when they become a
    customer and at any time they request a copy. The Statement is attached as Annex B for your information and can be
    ordered from the BBA website at BBA Association
    Marketing and advertising
    22. Subscribers must have the customer’s specific permission to pass the customer’s name and address to any company,
    including other companies in the subscriber’s group, for marketing purposes.
    23. There are various acceptable methods of obtaining the customer’s consent. It may, for example, be given by way of a
    clear and unambiguous clause above a signature box on an application form, or a positive ‘click’ on an internet
    application, or a positive reply to a specific question on the telephone. Subscribers should also be aware of the
    Information Commissioner’s Guidance for Direct Marketers and telecoms licensing requirements. Consent should not
    be required in return for the provision of standard account services.
    24. Subscribers can tell customers about another company’s services or products but no confidential information about
    the customer should be passed to the other company by the subscriber without customer consent.
    25. If the customer is interested in the other company’s products or services and they respond, then they are themselves
    releasing confidential information. For example, a subscriber may have a subsidiary which offers general insurance
    products. The subscriber could send their customer details of those products. The subscriber should make clear to
    the customer that the third party is a separate legal entity, and is not a division of the subscriber’s company, since this
    will not always be clear to the customer from the name of the third party. It is only if the customer chooses to respond
    3 Subscribers have a six month transitional period to replace the Statement of Principles which references the Banking Code, with the updated version
    at Annex B, which references the Lending Code.
    7
    positively that the subsidiary will learn any details about the customer, or even that the customer has been sent the
    information in the first place.
    26. Customers must be given the opportunity to opt out of receiving the subscriber’s marketing information. They should
    be reminded of this option at least once every three years.
    27. Account opening forms (whether paper, internet-based, questions over the telephone, or other ‘welcome pack’
    information) should contain a section or question to allow customers to signify that they do not wish to receive
    ‘marketing approaches.’ Examples of marketing approaches include literature through the post, e-mails and telephone
    calls. The types of approaches could be listed so the customer can object to some rather than all.
    28. ‘Marketing approaches’ means information designed to sell additional products and services. This means that if there
    is a clear intention to sell a product or service which the customer does not already have it will be caught by this
    provision, however it is sent. However, the provision of information relating to product or service improvements or the
    availability of new channels (e.g. that the customer’s existing account(s) can be accessed via the internet) are
    excluded from this provision, as are changes to administrative details, such as new branch or telephone helpline
    opening hours.
    29. As an illustration, advising a customer that they have free annual travel insurance with their credit card is not a
    marketing approach, whereas promoting an enhanced credit card to a standard credit cardholder is.
    30. Subscribers should consider carefully whether the purpose of a customer communication is operational or
    promotional. Where ‘combined’ messages are used, a non-promotional version may be needed for customers who
    have opted out of receiving marketing material.
    31. Express consent is not required to send this information, but customers must be given a clear opportunity to opt out of
    receiving it. Subscribers should, however, be aware (in the case of direct marketing telephone calls) of the
    Information Commissioner’s Guidance in relation to the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EU Directive)
    Regulations 2003.
    32. It will not be sufficient to state only in terms and conditions that customers can opt out by writing to a particular
    address; however, provided it is clear and unambiguous, a notification can be included in, for example, an account
    opening pack. In addition, existing customers have to be reminded, at least once every three years, that they can opt
    out of receiving this information. This reminder could be by letter, e-mail, telephone or other method, such as being
    included in an annual mailing, provided it is sent personally to each customer and is clear. Whatever notification
    method is chosen, subscribers should ensure they are familiar with the various pieces of guidance issued by the
    Information Commissioner under the Data Protection Act 1998.
    33. The three year notice can also be covered by subscribers adopting a more frequent approach, for example on all
    statements and/or marketing material.
    8
    Section 3: Credit reference agencies
    34. When customers apply for a lending product, subscribers should tell them when they may pass the customer’s details
    to credit reference agencies (CRAs) and the checks that subscribers may make with them. For example, customers
    should be told if a record of the search is kept at the CRA and, if so, that this could impact the customer’s ability to
    obtain credit elsewhere within a short period of time.
    35. Subscribers can give CRAs default information about a customer’s debts if:
    • the customer has fallen behind with their payments
    • the amount owed is not being disputed by the customer; and
    • the customer has not made a proposal that satisfies the subscriber for repaying the debt following the
    subscriber’s formal demand.
    36. Whether or not notice was given by the subscriber and consent was obtained from the customer at the time the
    account was opened, disclosure of default information can be made. But, in all cases, the customer must be given
    further notice of the intention to disclose the information at least 28 days before the disclosure is made (for example,
    when a default notice or formal demand is given). At the same time, customers must be given an explanation about
    how default information registered against them may affect their ability to obtain credit in the future. This notice will
    mean that customers have 28 days to try to repay or come to some arrangement with the subscriber before default
    information is passed to the CRA.
    37. For the purposes of the second bullet in paragraph 35, a customer dispute is relevant if it refers to the amount of
    money owed by the customer and is genuine, reasonable and unresolved. Further detail is provided in paragraph 43
    of the ICO guidance referenced below.
    38. Subscribers should refer to the Information Commissioner’s Data Protection Technical Guidance on Filing Defaults
    with CRAs (Information Commissioner's Office - ICO).
    39. With the customer’s permission, subscribers can share information about the day-to-day running of the customer’s
    account, including positive data, with CRAs where the firm has agreed to follow the industry’s Principles of
    Reciprocity. It is consistent with the legal position that any other disclosure to CRAs can be made only with the
    customer’s consent, usually by way of a declaration on an application form. The Information Commissioner accepts
    that such permission may be made a condition of borrowing.
    40. The requirement to share data does not apply in specialist customer segments such as private banking where sharing
    CRA data is not always appropriate.
    41. See also the Information Commissioner’s Guidance on the Data Protection Act 1998 which requires, in the absence of
    consent, one of eleven other conditions to be met. The ‘permission’ can be covered in a number of ways, for example,
    in terms and conditions, in an account opening pack, or it can be obtained at the time the disclosure is made. (Useful
    information can be found at Information Commissioner's Office - ICO)
    42. If a customer asks, subscribers should tell them how to get a copy of the information that CRAs hold about them, or
    should give the customer one of their leaflets that explain how credit referencing works.
    9
    Section 4: Credit assessment
    43. Before lending any money; granting or increasing an overdraft, or other borrowing, subscribers should assess whether
    the customer will be able to repay it.
    Personal customers
    44. For personal customers, this assessment should include consideration of information from CRAs plus at least one of
    the following three points:
    • The customer’s income and financial commitments.
    • How they have handled their finances in the past.
    • Internal credit scoring techniques.
    Additional useful considerations could include:
    • any security provided; and
    • why the customer wants to borrow the money and for how long.
    45. Assessment may also include other checks that have not been listed above.
    46. This requirement does not apply in specialist customer segments such as private banking where use of CRA data is
    not always appropriate.
    47. Where income is one of the factors considered when assessing ability to repay a personal loan and the loan is agreed
    only if the income of another person is taken into account, normally the loan should be provided on a joint and several
    basis. However there may be circumstances when it is appropriate to provide a loan on a sole basis.
    48. Subscribers should ensure they are familiar with the requirements of the Code Sponsors’ Guide to Credit Scoring and
    the explanations that need to be given to customers if credit scoring is used, and also the Information Commissioner’s
    Guidance on Credit Referencing.
    Micro-enterprise customers
    49. For micro-enterprise customers, this assessment may include looking at:
    • why the business wants to borrow the money
    • the business plan and accounts
    • the business’s cash flow, profitability and existing financial commitments
    • any personal financial commitments which may affect the business
    • how the customer has handled their finances in the past
    • information from credit reference agencies and, with the customer’s permission, others, such as other
    lenders and the customer’s landlord (where relevant)
    • credit-assessment techniques, such as credit scoring
    • any security provided.
    50. Subscribers should also ensure that they follow the BBA Statement of Principles which sets out how banks should
    work together with micro-enterprises. The Statement is included as Annex B.
    51. If the subscriber requires a micro-enterprise customer to hold a current account in order to get a loan the reasons for
    this should be explained to the customer before the loan application is completed.
    10
    Section 5: Current account overdrafts
    Pre-sale information
    52. When providing customers with information, before a contract is entered into, about a current account offering an
    overdraft facility, subscribers should include clear, fair and not misleading information outlining the availability of the
    overdraft, including whether there are qualifying criteria for accessing the overdraft.
    53. The customer must be provided, where relevant, with details of the interest rate to be applied or, if reference interest
    rates are to be used, the method for calculating the actual interest and the relevant date and index or base for
    determining such reference interest rates.
    54. This information must be provided either in good time, before the customer is bound by the contract; where the
    contract concludes at the payment service user’s request, using a means of distance communication, immediately
    after the conclusion of the contract.
    Point of sale and post-sale information
    55. If a customer is offered an overdraft, or an increase in their existing overdraft limit, subscribers should tell the
    customer if the overdraft is repayable on demand. The explanation could be contained in a facility letter or the terms
    and conditions.
    56. If a customer’s overdraft application is declined, the subscriber should explain the main reason why if asked by the
    customer. This could be provided in writing or electronically, if requested.
    57. The written explanation could be given in the form of a leaflet if this is sufficiently focused. With regard to refusals
    based on credit scoring, the Code Sponsors’ Guide to Credit Scoring refers and can be found at:
    BBA Association - Guide to Credit Scoring . Subscribers should have regard to the potential for
    financial crime in the information they provide and will want to avoid compromising their security procedures.
    Interest rates
    58. Subscribers should make information about overdraft interest rates available to customers via:
    • a telephone helpline;
    • a website;
    • notices in branches; or
    • information from staff.
    59. If an overdraft is provided subscribers should give customers information on the interest rates which apply and when
    interest will be collected. If customers ask, subscribers should also give a full explanation of how interest is worked
    out.
    60. Before taking interest, subscribers should give at least 14 days notice of how much will be taken.
    61. Subscribers should inform customers about changes to the interest rates on their overdraft in compliance with the
    relevant regulatory requirement applying to the subscriber’s overdraft terms.
    62. Within 3 working days of a rate change, notices should be put in branches and newspapers. To help compare rates,
    the old rate should also be included.
    63. Where an overdraft interest rate tracks changes to an index rate, the requirement to inform customers of changes
    does not apply.
    11
    Charges
    64. Subscribers should make available to customers information about any charges for overdrafts via:
    • a telephone helpline;
    • a website; or
    • by asking staff.
    65. Subscribers should tell customers personally at least 30 days before increasing an overdraft charge or introducing a
    new overdraft charge.
    66. Further guidance on charges information for current accounts, which are regulated under the Payment Services
    Regulations, can be found at: http://www.fsa.gov.uk/pubs/other/PSD_approach.pdf
    12
    Section 6: Credit cards
    Pre-sale information
    67. Information provided to customers should be clear, fair and not mis-leading. Subscribers should present information
    about the main features of a credit card in a summary box, as set out in The UK Cards Association best practice
    guidelines UK Cards Association - Best practice guidelines
    68. The summary box should be provided to the customer prior to their acceptance of the credit agreement.
    69. All integral features of the product, such as introductory rates, should be included in the summary box. Information on
    free-standing or optional product features, such as Payment Protection Insurance, credit card cheques or other freestanding
    product features should not be shown in the summary box. Information on such free-standing features
    should be provided separately and should comply with any relevant best practice guidelines.
    70. Pre-contract, the summary box should appear prominently on, or within, any application form/pack, acting as a final
    reminder for the consumer. This will typically cover direct mail pieces, free-standing leaflets, inserts etc. but not media
    such as television, radio, cinema or outdoor advertising.
    71. For internet applications, a click-through to a page containing the summary box should be available.
    72. Credit card issuers are not precluded from using the summary box in any advertising media they choose or at any
    point post-contract.
    73. Subscribers should only send a credit card to a customer if they request one or to replace a credit card the customer
    already has.
    Point of contract information
    74. Before a customer enters into the contract for a credit card (and when they accept the product for the first time) they
    should be given information relating to the following:
    • An explanation of how interest is calculated and charged; for example, whether it is charged on the full
    statement balance or only on any balance remaining after the customer has made the monthly payment;
    • The PSRs require that the customer must be provided, where relevant, with details of the interest and
    exchange rates to be applied or, if reference interest and exchange rates are to be used, the method for
    calculating the actual interest and the relevant date and index or base for determining such reference
    interest or exchange rates;
    • This information must be provided either in good time before the customer is bound by the contract, or
    where the contract is concluded at the payment service user’s request, using a means of distance
    communication, immediately after the conclusion of the contract;
    • Details of how monthly payments are applied to any outstanding balance across transaction types
    including promotional offers;
    • An explanation of recurring transactions;
    • details of charges for the day-to-day running of the account, including any annual fee, dormancy fee,
    charge for exceeding credit limit, charge for delayed monthly payment, charges for overseas transactions,
    cash withdrawal fees for card usage at an ATM or over the counter, fees for any cash equivalent
    transactions, balance transfer fees, returned payment fees due to insufficient funds, and any other
    applicable fees;
    • The distinction between being the principal cardholder and an additional cardholder should be explained
    i.e., that the principal cardholder is responsible for all spending, including that by additional cardholders,
    and is responsible for repayments on the credit card;
    • The interest rates applicable to different types of transactions (e.g., purchases, balance transfers, credit
    card cheque transactions and cash transactions) and the ways in which customers will be told about
    changes in interest rates; and
    • Sufficient details to enable customers to pay on time, including via automated payments. Subscribers
    should also ensure that, where customers are offered the facility to pay by cheque by post, sufficient time
    is given to allow payments to be made in time, taking account of the postal delivery system and the length
    of the clearing cycle.
    13
    Chip and PIN
    75. Subscribers should issue the customer’s PIN separately from their card.
    76. Subscribers should have systems in place to allow customers to change their PIN and should tell customers how to do
    so, for example in account opening packs or on PIN notifications.
    77. Subscribers should make reference to the availability of alternatives to chip and PIN in materials accompanying card
    issuance and in any discussion with the customer where they express difficulty with using a PIN.
    Interest rates
    78. Subscribers should make current credit card interest rates available to customers via one or more of the following:
    • a telephone helpline;
    • a website;
    • notices in branches; or
    • by asking staff.
    79. Subscribers should inform customers about changes to the interest rates on their credit card in compliance with the
    relevant regulatory requirement applying to the subscriber’s credit card terms.
    Risk-based repricing
    This section applies only to credit cards for personal customers where the interest rate is determined individually in accordance
    to the customer’s risk profile.
    80. Subscribers should not increase the standard interest rate on a credit card within the first 12 months after the account
    is opened4. Subscribers should not increase the interest rate on a credit card more often than once every 6 months
    after its first year of operation.
    81. If, after the first year of operation, a subscriber decides to reprice a customer’s credit card it should undertake the
    following procedures prior to any increase:
    • Give the customer at least 30 days advance notice of the increase in the interest rate;
    • Give the customer options which include closing the credit card account and repaying the balance at the
    existing interest rate, within a reasonable period;
    • Explain, if asked by the customer, why the interest rate is being increased; and
    • Consider offering an alternative product (if there is one available) at an equivalent or lower rate of interest.
    82. Subscribers should not increase the interest rate on a credit card if the personal customer:
    • has failed to make two or more consecutive minimum monthly repayments;
    • has agreed a repayment plan for the account; or
    • is engaging with a not-for-profit debt agency to discuss a repayment plan and the issuer has been formally
    notified.
    83. Further guidance on dealing with cases of financial difficulty is included in Section 9.
    4 This requirement does not apply to an introductory promotional APR that reverts to a standard APR within the first 12 months
    14
    Credit card limits
    84. Before giving a customer a credit limit, or increasing an existing limit, subscribers should assess whether they feel the
    customer will be able to repay it. Subscribers should follow The UK Cards Association best practice guidelines for
    credit card limit increases UK Cards Association - Best practice guidelines
    85. Subscribers should give customers notice if they increase the credit limit on their credit card and explain how
    customers can refuse the increase.
    86. Customers can contact the subscriber to reduce their credit card limit or opt-out of the increase.
    87. Customers can request an increase to their credit card limit. The request should be considered after subscribers have
    made appropriate checks.
    88. Where an emergency increase to a credit card limit is granted (i.e., when a transaction goes for authorisation and will
    take the customer over their pre-agreed limit) the issuer should always assess the customer’s ability to repay.
    89. Issuers should advise customers that checks are made before a limit is increased (the method and timing of advice
    will be at the issuer’s discretion).
    90. Credit card limit increases should not be offered on accounts that are in arrears and should not be granted for
    accounts that fall below credit scoring thresholds.
    91. Subscribers should periodically review customers’ credit card limits using credit reference agency and internal data.
    The requirement to use CRA data does not apply in specialist customer segments, such as private banking, where
    use of credit reference agency data is not always appropriate.
    92. Where the subscriber feels it is appropriate, the credit card limit should be reduced and notification given to the
    customer.
    Credit card promotional period
    93. If a credit card has an introductory promotional rate the expiry date of the introductory promotional offer should be
    shown on the front of the statement or in a separate, prominent personal notification to the customer. This should be
    given between four and eight weeks before the offer expires.
    94. It is acceptable to exceed the four or eight week period if the best way to provide information about the expiry of an
    introductory promotional rate is by a message in, or with, a monthly statement.
    95. This requirement does not apply where the customer is in breach of the terms and conditions of the account and the
    subscriber is concerned that giving the customer warning that the promotional period is about to end may result in
    abuse of the card, or where the account is not being used and the customer is not receiving a monthly statement.
    Credit card statements
    96. Firms should provide customers with a monthly statement for their credit card unless the account has a zero balance
    and has not been used. The monthly statement will include information about transactions since the last statement
    date, any interest which applies, the minimum repayment and other useful information compliant with the Consumer
    Credit Act 2006, such as the allocation of payments.
    97. Subscribers should follow The UK Cards Association Best Practice Guidelines for the Cardholder Statement Summary
    Box UK Cards Association - Best practice guidelines
    98. There are a number of specific pieces of information which should be included on every credit card statement (and
    where appropriate on a link from an electronic statement):
    • Sufficient details to enable customers to pay on time, including via automated payments;
    • The current interest rate should be printed on each statement. Also, if more than one interest rate applies
    to an outstanding balance (for example, where one rate applies to a transferred balance and different rates
    to new borrowing and cash transactions) this should be made clear;
    • A clear statement that if the account is not fully cleared, interest will be charged on the total value of the
    statement, and not just on the outstanding balance;
    • A clear statement that interest will be charged on a daily basis and that interest payments therefore
    increase the longer payment is delayed (even before the monthly payment date);
    15
    • A brief summary on the allocation of monthly payments on the front or back of the statement (or a link from
    an online statement);
    • The front of each credit card statement should show a cash figure indicative of the amount of interest
    which would be payable by the customer if they paid the minimum amount and it reached the subscriber
    on the last day for payment;
    • A warning about the risk of only making minimum payments – this should be worded as follows, ‘If you
    make only the minimum payment each month, it will take you longer and cost you more to clear your
    balance.’
    99. In addition, in the event that a customer has missed a payment, subscribers should also include in any notification
    sent to a customer in respect of missing the first payment reference to the option of paying by automated payment to
    avoid missing future payments.
    Credit card repayments
    100. Subscribers should ensure that the minimum monthly repayment covers more than that month’s interest. This means
    that the minimum repayment will cover that month’s interest and a proportion of the balance outstanding from the
    previous month.
    101. The principle should be that the minimum repayment on a credit card should reduce month by month if there have
    been no further transactions on the card and the lower minimum payment threshold of the card has not been reached,
    assuming all other conditions of the product remain unchanged. The term ‘transactions’ includes any fees, charges or
    PPI premiums incurred on the card.
    102. The minimum payment amount on the account should be clearly shown. This amount should normally be sufficient to
    avoid negative amortisation over a period of 12 months (i.e., the sum of 12 minimum payments would exceed the sum
    of additional interest added to the account over the same 12 month period).
    103. It is acceptable for the minimum payment amount to be calculated as a percentage of the balance carried forward, so
    long as the percentage would normally prevent negative amortisation. Other methods for calculating the minimum
    payment are also acceptable, provided this principle can be demonstrated.
    104. Subscribers may offer payment holidays and should clearly explain the terms and that customers can reject the
    holiday by continuing payment. Where a payment holiday is provided the minimum repayment afterwards should be
    sufficient to avoid negative amortisation over a period of 12 months from the start of the holiday.
    Credit card cheques
    105. Subscribers should follow The UK Cards Association best practice guidelines for credit card cheques including the
    provision of clear information through a summary box provided with all credit card cheques:
    UK Cards Association - Best practice guidelines
    106. New credit card customers should be given a first time opt-out from receiving credit card cheque mailings.
    107. When credit card cheques are provided the customer should be given prominent information about how to opt out of
    receiving cheques and how to destroy unwanted credit card cheques and supporting material.
    108. The following customers should not be issued credit card cheques:
    • Customers who are in arrears or over-limit5;
    • Customers with limited scope to borrow more or who are at their limit;
    • Customers who have opted out of receiving cheques; and
    • Accounts where there are fraudulent activities or lost/stolen procedures pending.
    109. Subscribers should not send out unsolicited credit card cheques with a pre-completed amount.
    5 This means customers who are in arrears with their payments or over-limit at the time of selection for receipt of credit card cheques.
    16
    110. In addition to the summary box, subscribers should clearly and transparently highlight in the main body of any
    communication accompanying the provision of credit card cheques the following (where applicable):
    • Credit card cheques do not provide the same level of consumer protection as a normal credit card
    purchase;
    • The transaction fee per cheque;
    • Whether there is an interest free period;
    • How to opt-out of receiving credit card cheques in the future; and
    • An alert to the Summary Box (e.g. “see important information overleaf”)
    Unauthorised transactions
    111. If the subscriber agrees that a credit card transaction has genuinely not been authorised by the customer then any
    interest that may have been charged on this transaction will be refunded. Interest will not be refunded if the customer
    has acted fraudulently or with gross negligence.
    112. Unless the subscriber can show that the customer acted fraudulently or with gross negligence, their liability for their
    credit card being misused will be limited as follows:
    • If someone else uses the card, before the customer informs the subscriber that it has been lost or stolen or
    that someone else knows the PIN, the most the customer will have to pay is £50;
    • If someone else uses the card details without the customer’s permission, and the card has not been lost or
    stolen, the customer will not have to pay anything;
    • If someone else uses the card details without the customer’s permission for a transaction where the
    cardholder does not need to be present (for example, buying something over the internet), the customer
    will not have to pay anything; and
    • If the card is used before the customer has received it, the customer will not have to pay anything.
    113. The second bullet refers to fraudulent situations where, for example, a customer’s card has been cloned. Unless the
    customer has acted fraudulently or with gross negligence (which the subscriber must prove – see below), the
    customer is liable for a maximum of £50 in total (i.e. not for each transaction) before they give notification of loss, etc.,
    if the card is out of their possession.
    114. If card details are misused while the card is still in the customer’s possession (i.e., it has not been lost or stolen), the
    customer cannot be liable, unless they have acted fraudulently or with gross negligence. This would include misuse
    of card details in the case of distance transactions (this reflects the requirements of the EU Distance Selling Directive).
    Under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, if the card was used as a credit token, then the consideration of gross
    negligence is irrelevant.
    115. This provision confirms that the burden of proof lies with the subscriber and not with the customer, so the subscriber
    will have to provide proof if necessary.
    17
    Section 7: Loans
    Declining an application
    116. If a customer’s loan application is declined, the subscriber should explain the main reason if asked by the customer.
    This could be provided in writing or electronically, if requested.
    117. The written explanation could be given in the form of a leaflet if this is sufficiently focused. In regard to refusals based
    on credit scoring, the Code Sponsors’ Guide to Credit Scoring (in particular, section 6 of the Guide) refers.
    Subscribers should have regard to the potential for financial crime in the information they provide and will want to
    avoid compromising their security procedures.
    118. If, after declining an application for credit, subscribers wish to refer a customer to another lender, they should make
    the customer aware that a referral is not an indication that a subsequent application for credit will be successful.
    Guarantees for personal and micro-enterprise lending
    119. Regular financial information about the person on whose behalf a guarantee/indemnity or other security is given
    should always be made available to the guarantor or granters of third party security (‘granters’), so that they can
    assess the likelihood of being called upon to pay, as long as permission is given and confidentiality is not breached.
    120. If the guarantor or granter requests confidential financial information (with the exception of the current level of liability),
    such as details of balances, copy statements, etc, the customer’s consent should first be obtained.
    121. It is important that guarantors or granters receive independent legal advice to help them understand the full nature of
    their commitment and the potential implications of their decision. Case law on this issue is well developed and
    subscribers should encourage, as far as possible, potential guarantors or granters to take independent advice.
    Subscribers may wish to go further than what is covered in this section and require a potential guarantor or granter
    who refuses to take legal advice to sign a declaration to that effect. In any case, the recommendation to take
    independent legal advice, and the potential consequences of their decision, should be stated clearly on all appropriate
    documents that the guarantor or granter is asked to sign.
    122. In relation to guarantees/indemnities, subscribers must also inform guarantors or granters that, by giving the
    guarantee/indemnity or other third party security, they may have to pay instead of or as well as the customer.
    Subscribers must also tell the guarantor the extent of their liability, including the addition of interest and charges after
    demand has been made. When independent legal advice has been given, it may be assumed that the solicitor will
    have explained the nature of all monies and continuing security, if appropriate. Depending on the nature and structure
    of facilities, subscribers may choose to explain these features to those customers who have declined independent
    legal advice (and should always do so when requested by any guarantor).
    123. Subscribers should not take an unlimited guarantee from an individual other than to support a customer’s liabilities
    under a merchant agreement. However, other forms of unlimited third party security may be taken from an individual,
    provided that the limit of the granter’s liability is explained in a side letter. This is to avoid the need to take fresh
    security, with the associated expense and inconvenience to customers, each time a facility changes.
    124. ‘Unlimited’ applies to the capital amount of the loan and excludes interest, charges and arrears etc. An explanation of
    this should be covered in the guarantee/indemnity or other security documents that the guarantor is asked to sign.
    125. In the case of limited companies, which are part of the same group structure, subscribers may continue to take
    unlimited guarantees from the constituent companies in support of borrowing by other companies in the group.
    18
    Security for micro-enterprise lending
    126. If a subscriber asks for security to support a business’s borrowing or other liabilities it should tell the business why it
    needs the security and confirm what is needed in writing. Documents should be easy to understand and avoid
    technical language whenever possible. Micro-enterprise customers should have the opportunity to discuss with the
    subscriber anything about which they are unsure.
    Last edited by Tools; 30th November 2014 at 21:38:PM. Reason: broken links
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    Default Re: The Lending Code

    127. If asked by the customer, the subscriber should tell the customer under what circumstances they will agree to release
    the security. It should be made clear that the security will be released once the facility is repaid – unless contrary
    instructions are received from the customer (i.e. security should not be retained beyond the life of the borrowing
    without the customer’s express agreement).
    The Statement of Principles for lending to micro-enterprises
    128. Subscribers should ensure that they follow the BBA Statement of Principles6 when lending to micro-enterprises. The
    Statement is included at Annex B.
    6 Subscribers have a six month transitional period to replace the Statement of Principles which references the Banking Code, with the updated version
    at Annex B, which references the Lending Code
    19
    Section 8: Terms and conditions
    129. Unless it is impracticable to do so, as in the case of products purchased by telephone, customers should be provided
    with any product terms and conditions - and be encouraged to read them - before they commit to purchasing the
    product.
    130. All terms and conditions should be written in clear and intelligible language. They should be fair in substance and,
    when relating to personal lending, should reflect the requirements of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts
    Regulations.
    131. Terms and conditions supplied to customers in paper format should be easy to read by someone with normal or
    corrected eyesight.
    132. Customers should be told how they will be notified of changes to terms and conditions when they become a customer.
    133. Subscribers must not insist that a customer buys an insurance product from them as a condition of providing the
    customer with a lending product.
    Changes to terms and conditions
    134. If terms and conditions are changed to the customer’s detriment customers should be given at least 30 days personal
    notice (for example, by letter, e-mail, etc) before the change takes effect. At any time during the 60 days from the
    date of the notification, the customer must be free to close or switch their account without having to give notice.
    Customers should also be free to close or switch accounts without any financial penalty.
    135. Where a change to terms and conditions is not to the customer’s disadvantage it can be made immediately. However,
    the customer should be notified of the change within 30 days. Notification can be made in a number of ways, for
    example: by press advertisements; branch notices; information on the website; etc. The method chosen should be
    appropriate for the distribution channel. So, for example, a branch notice would not be appropriate to advertise
    changes in the terms of an internet-only account.
    136. If a firm makes a major change or a lot of minor changes to terms and conditions in any one year it should provide the
    customer with a summary of the changes and make available a full copy of the terms and conditions.
    20
    Section 9: Financial difficulties
    137. Subscribers should be sympathetic and positive when considering a customer’s financial difficulties. Although there is
    an onus on customers to try to help themselves, the first step, when a subscriber becomes aware of a customer’s
    financial difficulties, should be to try to contact the customer to discuss the matter. This applies to both personal and
    micro-enterprise customers.
    138. Personal customers should be considered to be in financial difficulty when income is insufficient to cover reasonable
    living expenses and meet financial commitments as they become due. This may result from a change in lifestyle,
    often accompanied by a fall in disposable income and/or increased expenditure, such as:
    • loss of employment;
    • disability;
    • serious illness;
    • relationship breakdown;
    • death of a partner;
    • starting a lower paid job;
    • parental/carer leave;
    • starting full-time education; and
    • imprisonment
    139. Financial difficulties may become evident to a subscriber from one or more of the following events:
    • Items repeatedly being returned unpaid due to lack of available funds;
    • Failing to meet loan repayments or other commitments;
    • Discontinuation of regular credits;
    • Notification of some form of insolvency or court proceedings;
    • Regular requests for increased borrowing or repeated rescheduling of debts;
    • Making frequent cash withdrawals on a credit card at a non-promotional rate of interest; and
    • Repeatedly exceeding a credit card or overdraft limit without agreement.
    140. Additionally, for micro-enterprise customers, financial difficulties may also become evident to subscribers because:
    • the customer goes overdrawn without agreement;
    • the customer goes over their agreed overdraft limit, especially more than once;
    • there are large increases or decreases in the business’s turnover;
    • the business is trading at a loss;
    • the business suddenly loses a key customer or employee;
    • a large part of the business is sold;
    • a facility is used for purposes other than those agreed with the subscriber;
    • the customer does not keep to conditions set out in the loan agreement;
    • the customer does not supply agreed monitoring information on time; and
    • another creditor brings a winding-up petition or other legal action against the business.
    21
    Proactive contact
    141. If, during the course of a customer’s account operation, a subscriber becomes aware via their existing systems that
    the customer may be heading towards financial difficulties, the subscriber should contact the customer to outline their
    approach to financial difficulties and to encourage the customer to contact the subscriber if the customer is worried
    about their position. Subscribers should also provide signposts to sources of free, independent money advice.
    142. Subscribers should determine the level of intervention required dependent on the individual customer’s position.
    143. Subscribers should make available to customers straightforward information in plain English on their procedures and
    systems for dealing with customers in financial difficulty. This might explain, for example, the main rights and
    responsibilities of customers and subscribers, and what is involved in legal demands or a referral to a debt recovery
    unit. The BBA publishes a leaflet, Dealing with Debt, which is available on the BBA and UK Cards Association
    websites.
    144. Where a customer requests that the subscriber deals with them in writing or e-mail (providing that facility is available)
    rather than by telephone, they should do so as long as the customer remains co-operative and in regular dialogue.
    Specialist assistance
    145. If it becomes clear to the subscriber that the customer needs specialist assistance, the customer should be referred
    promptly to a specialist team that deals with customers in financial difficulties, if one exists. In some cases, referral to
    a debt recovery unit may also be necessary.
    Repayment plans
    146. The subscriber should explore a range of options with the customer. Usually this will require the customer to disclose
    to the subscriber details of their income, expenditure, assets and liabilities, including amounts (if any) owed to other
    creditors. This information will be used to develop a plan for dealing with the liabilities. In cases where there are
    liabilities to multiple creditors, subscribers should recommend a free money advice service.
    147. The initial arrangements for repaying the debt should be in writing or other durable medium. This will not always be
    treated as a formal debt management plan, and there may be departures from this plan, if it is in the interests of
    subscribers and customers. There is no need for every small departure from the basic plan to be in writing (for
    example an agreement to accept a lower repayment for one week), but any amendments that change the fundamental
    nature of the plan should be in writing. If, at the subscriber’s discretion, the plan includes an agreement to accept
    smaller repayments, the subscriber should tell the customer whether this is regarded as ‘falling behind with
    repayments’ and whether information will be passed to Credit Reference Agencies.
    148. Repayment plans between subscribers and customers may be subject to regular review. Any review period will be
    agreed with the customer or their adviser, and subscribers should seek to revise contributions only at the end of the
    review period or if a customer’s personal circumstances change. (Customers and/or their advisers should inform the
    subscriber if the customer’s personal situation changes.)
    Debt Collection Agencies
    149. Subscribers should follow a due diligence process when selecting third parties for debt management, which should
    include third party compliance with data protection legislation, consumer credit legislation, Office of Fair Trading
    guidance on debt collection and debt management, and the code of the Credit Services Association.
    150. Subscribers should use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that the Code standards for handling financial difficulties
    are applied by such agents. Code compliance standards should form part of all third party contracts.
    151. Subscribers should pass on relevant information to enable the third party debt manager to recover the debt.
    152. Subscribers should follow a due diligence process when selecting any third party for debt sale. Any new contract
    should ensure that the third party will comply with data protection legislation, consumer credit legislation, Office of Fair
    Trading guidance on debt collection and debt management, the code of the Credit Services Association and the
    Lending Code’s standards for handling financial difficulties even if the debt purchaser is not a subscriber. The
    subscriber will inform the third party of any relevant arrangements currently being complied with by the customer.
    153. It is common practice for third parties taking on a debt to request a new statement of income, expenditure and assets
    to understand the customer’s most up-to-date position.
    22
    The Statement of Principles for Micro-enterprise customers
    154. In addition to the general requirements above for dealing with financial difficulties, subscribers should ensure that for
    micro-enterprise customers in financial difficulty they follow the BBA Statement of Principles7. The Statement is
    included as Annex B.
    Additional provisions for personal customers in financial difficulty
    Paragraphs 155 – 172 outline further requirements that subscribers should follow when relevant in dealing with personal
    customers in financial difficulty.
    Consolidation loans
    155. Where a consolidation loan is being provided to a personal customer and the subscriber considers the customer to be
    in financial difficulties, the subscriber should reduce or pay off the existing in-house borrowing that it is aware is being
    consolidated. This applies only where the existence of such in-house borrowing is apparent to subscribers via their
    existing in-house systems.
    156. Exceptionally there may be circumstances in which it is appropriate not to reduce or pay off existing borrowing.
    Breathing space for personal credit card customers
    157. Where a not-for-profit debt advice agency has formally notified a subscriber that the customer is in serious discussion
    with them on a draft debt repayment plan, the credit card provider should suspend collections activity while these
    discussions continue, provided that they are concluded within 30 days.
    158. In exceptional circumstances where discussions are progressing but have not been concluded within the initial 30
    days, the debt advice agency can ask the subscriber for an additional 30-day breathing space.
    Communicating with personal customers and advisers
    159. Communications with customers and/or their advisers should, wherever possible, acknowledge and reflect any
    previous discussions that have taken place. Subscribers should be willing to communicate with customers and/or their
    advisers by phone, post, secure email or fax. Normally, the subscriber will communicate through the adviser, if an
    authority has been received. This does not preclude subscribers from copying correspondence to customers if they
    choose. In certain circumstances it may be beneficial for discussions (either face-to-face or over the telephone)
    between the adviser and subscriber to take place with the customer present.
    160. On occasions the subscriber may need to contact the customer directly, even when an authority is in place. These
    occasions may be the result of the adviser not being available, failing to provide requested information within a
    reasonable period of time, or other similar circumstances.
    161. Subscribers should give a phone number on all communications that will put the customer in contact with a named
    person or a team dedicated to dealing with cases of financial difficulty.
    7 Subscribers have a six month transitional period to replace the Statement of Principles which references the Banking Code, with the updated version
    at Annex B, which references the Lending Code
    23
    Debt recovery procedures
    162. If the customer does not co-operate with the subscriber, a plan cannot be developed and the subscriber may proceed
    with normal debt recovery procedures. Lack of co-operation would include not responding to the subscriber’s
    attempts at contact and unreasonable demands by the customer (for example, a request that the debt be written off or
    repaid over a very long period, even though the customer could afford to make reasonable repayments).
    163. The subscriber should take into consideration any other accounts that the customer may have with the subscriber if
    these have a credit balance. In addition, if a customer has assets which could reasonably be expected to be sold to
    reduce outstanding debts, the subscriber may request that the customer, and if appropriate, their adviser, considers
    this option. Thereafter, the subscriber should acknowledge that income should only be used to repay ‘non-priority’
    debts once provision has been made for any ‘priority’ debts. The subscriber should leave the customer with sufficient
    money for reasonable day-to-day expenses, taking into account individual circumstances. Subscribers will not subject
    customers to harassment or undue pressure when discussing their problems.
    164. A debt is considered ‘priority’ where the customer’s failure to pay could lead directly to the loss of one or more of the
    following:
    • The customer’s home (e.g., rent, mortgage, secured loans);
    • The customer’s liberty (e.g., council tax, child support maintenance, income tax, court fines);
    • The customer’s utility supplies (e.g., water, gas, electricity); or
    • The customer’s essential goods or services (e.g., a cooker, a fridge, or the means to travel to work).
    Token offers and write offs
    165. Token offers may be accepted where the customer has demonstrated they have no surplus income available for their
    ‘non-priority’ creditors and there is a realistic prospect of the customer's circumstances improving. A token offer will
    not necessarily be sufficient to prevent the subscriber from selling the debt to a third party debt recovery agent and to
    prevent the debt from being registered as a default with the credit reference agencies.
    166. Where the subscriber considers the customer’s personal and financial circumstances to be exceptional and unlikely to
    improve, the subscriber may, among other options, consider writing off or not pursuing part or all of the customer’s
    debt(s). Where write-off is requested by a customer or adviser but is not considered appropriate by the subscriber, the
    subscriber must give their reasons in writing. If the subscriber agrees to a write-off, then the debt may be registered
    as a default with the credit reference agencies.
    Common Financial Statement
    167. If a customer works with a debt-counselling organisation to complete a Common Financial Statement (CFS), the
    subscriber should accept the CFS as the basis for negotiations with the customer to draw up a debt- management
    plan.
    168. This provision is designed to help people in financial difficulties, and some subscribers may only apply it when
    accounts have gone into default. Other subscribers may choose to use the provision at an earlier stage if it benefits
    both them and the customer.
    169. Money advisers will use the BBA/MAT/FLA Common Financial Statement format and principles when submitting
    information to subscribers8.
    170. Subscribers should accept the CFS (and other similar statements such as that used by the Consumer Credit
    Counselling Service (CCCS). The CFS - or equivalent details of the customer’s income, expenditure and assets - is
    necessary to enable the subscriber to gather information to assess if an ‘offer to pay’ will enable the customer to be
    accepted onto a formal debt management plan (DMP), or enable the subscriber to reduce or suppress interest and
    fees.
    171. The third party money adviser should ensure that their authority to act on behalf of the customer is promptly sent to all
    creditors identified by the customer. It is also the responsibility of the adviser to ensure that a CFS or equivalent is
    sent to the creditors shortly after the authority. In these circumstances, where a money adviser has been appointed
    8 More information on the BBA/MAT/FLA statement is available from the British Bankers’ Association or money Advice Trust as well as the agencies
    supported by MAT, e.g., the National Associations of Citizens Advice Bureaux Service, Advice UK, Money Advice Association, Money Advice Scotland,
    and National Debtline.
    24
    and there are debts with many creditors subscribers will not normally be able to work with the customer until a CFS or
    equivalent has been received.
    172. In general, subscribers should then be prepared to accept an offer of repayment which is based on the principle of
    equitable distribution of available income (after priority payments), in line with the amount outstanding to each creditor.
    Alternative means of calculating the distribution of available income by the customer or their adviser may be agreed
    on a case-by-case basis. A subscriber may accept an offer of payment, even though the offer is not sufficient to
    enable the customer to be accepted onto a formal DMP.
    Debt and mental health
    This section of guidance is relevant to both personal and micro-enterprise customers.
    173. The impacts of financial difficulty can be especially acute for customers with mental health problems. Subscribers
    should consider their processes and systems to ensure that they can be responsive to a customer in financial
    difficulties, from the point at which they are made aware of a mental health problem.
    174. The appropriate response will differ in each case and could involve a range of approaches, including:
    • working positively with an advice agency
    • promptly carrying out agreed actions
    • being flexible in responding to offers or schedules of repayment
    • sensitively managing communications with the customer (for example preventing unnecessary and
    unwelcome mailings).
    175. Where it is appropriate and with a customer’s consent, subscribers should work with advice agencies and health and
    social care professionals in a joined-up way to exchange information and ensure an effective dialogue.
    176. With a customer’s explicit consent and in line with requirements of the Data Protection Act, where it is possible and
    appropriate subscribers should record relevant information about the customer on their account so that staff can deal
    appropriately with the customer.
    177. If a subscriber has specialist staff to deal with cases of debt and mental health problems, they should ensure that
    appropriate mechanisms exist to refer the customer to the appropriate support.
    178. If a customer informs a subscriber that they have a mental health problem that is impacting on their ability to manage
    their financial difficulties, the subscriber should allow the customer a reasonable period (e.g. 28 days) of time to collect
    and submit relevant evidence to the subscriber. This evidence will help the subscriber to work with the customer,
    advice agencies and health/social professionals where appropriate to determine the most appropriate action to deal
    with the customer’s financial difficulties.
    179. The Money Advice Liaison Group (MALG) has produced a Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form (DMHEF) which
    provides a standardised methodology for advisors and creditors to share relevant information about the customer’s
    condition from health and social care professionals9.
    180. Subscribers are encouraged to consider the DMHEF if it is presented by the customer or their adviser (with the
    customer’s consent).
    181. If a subscriber has received appropriate and relevant evidence of a customer’s mental health problems they should
    consider whether it is appropriate to pass or sell the customer’s debt to a third party debt collection agency.
    182. The subscriber should also only initiate court action to pursue the debt as a last resort and when it is appropriate and
    fair to do so.
    183. Further and more detailed good practice guidelines have been produced by MALG and are available at:
    Money Advice Trust - MALG Good Practice Guidelines . The MALG guidelines will not be monitored and enforced by the
    Lending Standards Board.
    9 The DMHEF and relevant guidance can be found at Money Advice Trust - Debt and Mental Health Resources
    25
    Section 10: Complaints
    184. In line with the FSA DISP Rules, all subscribers should have a set of internal procedures for handling complaints, and
    staff dealing with customers should know what these are so that customers can be informed if the need arises.
    Procedures should be clear and well defined.
    185. On entering a contract, customers should be informed about where they can find details of the subscriber’s complaints
    handling procedures.
    186. Details of the internal complaints procedures should be given to customers who wish to make a complaint.
    187. If a subscriber is unable to resolve a complaint to the customer’s satisfaction by the close of business on the day
    following receipt of the complaint, the subscriber should provide a prompt written acknowledgement that the complaint
    is being considered.
    188. Customers should be kept informed about the subscriber’s progress in dealing with the complaint and within eight
    weeks should receive a final response or an explanation as to why a final response has not yet been reached. The
    Customer should also be informed that they can refer their complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (where
    applicable) and how to do so.
    189. Enforcement of compliance with these requirements is the FSA’s responsibility.
    Section 11: Monitoring
    190. Subscribers should appoint a Code Compliance Officer who is likely to be the contact person for co-ordinating the
    annual statement of compliance, compliance visits and other contact with the Lending Standards Board.
    191. Further details about the Lending Standards Board can be found at Lending Standards Board.
    26
    Annex A: Unsecured personal loan(s) –
    summary box
    When pre-sale information that includes any of paragraphs 5-7 of Schedule 2 of the Consumer Credit Advertisements
    Regulations 2004 is presented to customers in a written and/or online format, it should be available in a standard summary box.
    This applies to unsecured loans but not to sales finance, overdrafts or credit cards.
    This requirement does not apply to Schedule 2 information contained in pre-contract information because this is prescribed by
    the Consumer Credit (Disclosure of Information) Regulations 2004 and the Financial Service (Distance Marketing) Regulations
    2004.
    A summary box does not have to be available in specialist customer segments such as private banking where its use may not
    be appropriate.
    The content and order of the summary box is outlined below and should be relevant to the features of the financial promotion to
    which it relates.
    SUMMARY BOX
    Key Information for our xxx personal loan(s) from £x to £xx
    APR If priced by risk:-
    Typical x.x % APR
    If successful, the interest rate you will pay is based on your personal
    circumstances, [the time period over which the loan is repaid] and
    [the amount you choose to borrow].
    Or, if not priced by risk:-
    Typical x.x % APR
    If successful, the interest rate you will pay is based on the amount
    you choose to borrow, [and the time period over which the loan is
    repaid].
    Loan size range
    £5000 – 7500
    £7501 - 10000
    From %
    17.3
    14.9
    To %
    19.9
    18.9
    Representative APR
    18.0
    16.0
    Interest rate ranges
    (To include sufficient information for the consumer to see the interest rates /
    ranges for all the loan size bands /tiers used in the financial promotion. If price
    is affected by the repayment period the From % and To % should fully reflect
    this )
    27
    Interest charging information
    To include :-
    Is rate fixed for life of loan?
    Basis of interest calculation: (daily/monthly/annual balance; in
    arrears/advance)
    Repayment information To include :-
    Method and frequency of repayment
    Date when first repayment is due
    Are payment holidays permitted?
    Is deferral of payments permitted at start of loan?
    Repayment period To include the range of time periods over which a loan can be repaid
    Amount of loan available To include the range of £ amounts for which loans are available and applicable
    increments
    Application/Arrangement fee To include the £ amount of any set up fees, whatever they may be called.
    Other fees To include any optional fees, such as “fast delivery” costs, “payment date
    change fees” & “fees for paying by credit card”
    Default fees To include a list of all default charges applied by the loan provider, their £
    costs, and any rules about when charged. “Default” to be defined so customer
    knows when applicable.
    If none are charged then show: “none”.
    (Examples might include: returned item charges for unpaid standing orders /
    direct debits.)
    Early settlement
    To include details of any early settlement fees
    Illustrative example
    Loan Representative Term Monthly Total payable
    amount APR repayment
    £3000 X% 36 months £x £xx
    £5000 X% 36 months £x £xx
    £10000 X% 60 months £x £xx
    The example loan amounts and terms above should be used when they are
    relevant to the loan bands for the financial promotion. If the example loan
    amounts above are not relevant they should be replaced by three relevant
    example loan amounts.
    The example loan terms used should be 36 months for amounts under
    £10,000 and 60 months for £10,000 and above However, different illustrative
    examples may be provided if the financial promotion is for a loan product that
    does not allow either of the example loan terms
    Layout
    28
    Presentation should be clear and legible and in compliance with the Consumer Credit Advertising Regulations. The summary
    box can include key product information for more than one of the subscriber’s unsecured loan products, but information for each
    product should be presented in an individual column.
    Subscribers are encouraged to use the standardised wording shown above, where applicable.
    Left hand column
    The sequence of information presented in the left hand column should be the same for each product and in the order outlined
    above.
    Right hand column
    This text provides examples of the types of information that should be presented for each key product feature, but these
    examples are not prescriptive or exhaustive. Subscribers should ensure that information relevant to the key product feature (left
    hand column) is included in the right hand column. Subscribers are not required to include information in the right hand column
    on features that the product does not include e.g. ‘Not applicable’ can be inserted. Subscribers should ensure that they are
    compliant with customer information requirements under relevant consumer credit legislation.
    Last edited by Tools; 30th November 2014 at 21:29:PM. Reason: broken links
    “We may not win by protesting, but if we don’t protest we will lose. If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win.” Hetty Bower

    Any advice I provide is given without liability, if you are unsure please seek professional legal guidance.

    Find Solicitors offering fixed fees on our sister site - JustBeagle.com

  3. #3
    Amethyst's Avatar

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    Default Re: The Lending Code

    APR
    Subscribers need only show whichever of the two suggested examples is relevant to the way the product is priced.
    Subscribers are encouraged to include whichever of the variables included in the example summary box above is relevant to the
    way the product is priced i.e. personal circumstances; time period over which the loan is repaid; the amount you choose to
    borrow.
    Interest rate ranges
    The ranges should be based on the price bands used in the financial promotion. In the example above, the financial promotion
    is for loans of £5000 to £10,000.
    If the interest rate will be affected by the repayment period this should be articulated.
    Interest charging information
    An example of the way in which this information could be presented is:
    Once agreed, the APR is fixed and guaranteed for the life of your loan. The interest, at the agreed rate, will be
    calculated on the amount of loan outstanding each day and debited from your account monthly in arrears.
    Other fees
    This should include any fees that can be incurred by the customer which are not outlined in other sections of the summary box
    Information should include whether fees are added to the loan; paid monthly; paid in advance/arrears; interest bearing etc
    29
    Illustrative example
    Subscribers should include three examples to allow customers to see the potential costs of repaying these loans.
    The interest rate used should be the rate at or below which 66% of loans of this amount and length are priced, or the actual rate
    for such loans if not priced by risk.
    Any additional product information which the subscriber feels should be given to the customer may be presented in
    close proximity to, but not within, the summary box.
    Usage
    The summary box should appear prominently on or within pre-sale material where any Schedule 2 paragraphs 5-7 information is
    triggered.
    This will typically cover direct mail pieces: free standing leaflets; marketing inserts, etc. A summary box is not required for
    personal quotations requested by the customer or in media such as newspapers, posters, television, radio, cinema and outdoor
    advertising, although subscribers can choose to provide the summary box in these and other additional circumstances.
    For promotions via the internet that include any of paragraphs 5-7 of Schedule 2, a link to the subscribers’ webpage containing
    the summary box should be available.
    Provision of a summary box is not required where the subscriber is providing the customer with presale information in an oral
    form e.g. via telephone.
    30
    Annex B: Statement of Principles
    The Statement of Principles is available in leaflet form, but we have reproduced the copy here for convenience. Subscribers
    have a six month transitional period to replace the old Statement of Principles, which references the Banking Code, with the
    updated version below (which references the Lending Code).
    A Statement of Principles: Banks and micro-enterprises – working together
    Foreword
    The original Statement of Principles came into force on 1 July 1997, having been drafted after the recession in the early 90s
    when many lessons were learned. In light of the current economic climate, the Principles have been reviewed by all key
    stakeholders to ensure that they continue to show real commitment from banks and highlight the responsibilities of microenterprises
    ♣.
    The Principles show how banks will work with micro-enterprises to get the relationship right from the start and help if the
    business gets into difficulties. They set out the industry’s best practice, showing business customers what they can expect from
    their bank and, in return, what they can do to build a strong relationship with their bank.
    The Principles show that banks are committed to working with business customers to find ways of overcoming the difficulties
    they may face in changing markets and through the economic cycle. All businesses experience these challenges. The Principles
    also emphasise that if the owners and managers of the business take early advice and action, they can work with the bank to
    sort out difficulties.
    All our major banks have skilled specialists to deal with customers in difficulties. They will be involved in the small number of
    cases when, despite everyone’s efforts, a business is failing. The industry and its customers are well aware that good managers
    and responsible banks are beneficial to everyone concerned, directly benefiting not only most of the businesses that succeed
    but also the wider community. Professional advisers and business support organisations have an important role to play in
    building trusted relationships between businesses and banks.
    Overview
    The Statement of Principles defines how banks will work together with their micro-enterprise customers when they need finance
    for the first time, and later as their needs change. The Principles show how banks will work with micro-enterprise customers to
    get the relationship right from the start and help if the business gets into difficulties, and how businesses can work most
    effectively with their bank.
    The Statement of Principles is followed by banks that subscribe to the Lending Code and provide micro-enterprise lending.
    The Lending Code sets out how banks will deal with customers in the UK. It includes banks’ responsibilities involving:
    • Credit assessment
    • business loans and overdrafts
    • credit cards
    • charges and interest rates
    • financial difficulties.
    All relevant banks that subscribe to the Lending Code will ensure that every appropriate member of their staff receives a
    copy of this Statement. Copies of the Statement will also be given to all micro-enterprise customers and are freely available
    in bank branches. The Lending Code is freely available online at BBA Association - Home
    The Principles cover:
    ♣ A micro-enterprise is defined as a business that employs fewer than 10 persons and has a turnover or annual balance sheet that does not exceed €2
    million. Further information about this definition can be found on the EU Commission’s website at
    Enterprise - SME Definition
    31
    1. Getting things right at the start
    2. Sharing concerns
    3. Agreeing the way forward
    4. Making a complaint
    5. Switching your current account to another bank.
    Introduction
    The relationship between a bank and a customer is a partnership. It needs careful thought and openness on both sides from the
    start, and particularly in difficult times.
    Micro-enterprises are important to banks because they represent a significant proportion of their customers and use a wide range of
    bank services. If a customer does get into difficulties and its bank becomes aware, the bank will discuss with the customer the
    advice and action that may be necessary. In most cases, this should allow the bank and customer to agree the terms of the
    bank’s support and to return to running the business successfully. However, if the customer does not ask for or act on advice, or
    take part in meaningful discussions, the bank may have to take action to protect its own position.
    The Principles set out, in general terms, how the customer and bank can tackle financial difficulties in a positive way. Many
    factors can contribute to this but the single most important step is for customers to speak to their bank at the earliest
    opportunity, take appropriate advice and act as soon as something goes wrong. Banks will contact micro-enterprise customers
    as soon as they know of difficulties and will offer to discuss these personally with the customer.
    A meaningful business plan is often the basis for successful discussions, both at the start and if things begin to go wrong.
    When a bank tells a customer about its concerns, it will be as relevant and specific as possible, because that will help the
    customer to work with the bank to sort them out.
    It is in the interests of both the bank and the customer to address concerns as soon as possible and agree a way
    forward. Sometimes, only selling the business or changing management can save the main business and save jobs for the
    benefit of the whole community. Where the business is not viable as structured, formal insolvency procedures may have to be
    considered to restructure or wind down the business. It is not in anyone’s interests for banks to continue to support
    businesses that cannot survive. The Enterprise Act 2002 recognises this and banks will work with management to use the best
    legal framework to achieve a fair outcome.
    Banks will continue to reinforce these Principles within their own systems and publications, and make sure that all relevant staff
    within their organisations understand and apply them. The Lending Standards Board (LSB) independently monitors banks’
    compliance with the Lending Code, including a commitment to follow the Statement of Principles. The LSB will monitor
    banks’ application of this Statement in their operational procedures; including ensuring relevant staff receive a copy of the
    Statement and providing the Principles to new and existing customers.
    In the following Principles, ‘we’ means the banks agreeing to follow these Principles, and ‘you’ means the micro-enterprise
    customers of those banks.
    32
    The Principles
    1 Getting things right at the start
    a We will confirm the conditions of any facility (borrowing, guarantees, bonds and so on) in writing.
    We will make sure that the documents detailing the facility are easy to understand, using technical language only when
    necessary. We will be happy to explain anything you are not sure about.
    It is important that you read the documents carefully. Please feel free to ask questions and get independent advice.
    The documents legally bind both of us. If you are asked, you should only sign them if you fully understand what you are
    doing. They will normally include:
    • the amount and purpose of the facility
    • whether the facility is for a particular period or whether you will have to repay it when asked
    • when any repayments are to be made and the amount of those repayments
    • the interest rate and any other charges for the facility, and whether these are variable
    • when we will normally review the facility with you
    • the existing or new security and guarantees, including any minimum values to be maintained
    • what sort of circumstances will lead to an earlier review or require repayment
    • the information you will need to give us before you can use the facility
    • what action we might take if you fail to meet repayments
    If the documents do not fully reflect any aspect of the negotiated agreement, discuss this with us before signing. Although
    banks always commit to first consider business assets before determining whether personal assets are appropriate, if
    you are providing personal security make sure that you and anybody else giving security understand the documents. Anyone
    providing security is also encouraged to get independent legal advice.
    b We will recommend that you get independent advice before accepting the facility.
    The documents relating to your facility are important and form the agreement between us. Independent advice can help you to
    make an informed choice about the facility and understand the risks and responsibilities involved.
    You can get legal advice from solicitors. Other sources of advice include accountants, Business Link, Business Gateway
    Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise Scotland, Flexible Support for Business in Wales and Invest Northern Ireland. If you
    want, we can give you details of where you can get advice locally.
    Whoever you choose to get advice from, you will be responsible for the costs involved. We will be happy to discuss any issues
    with your adviser if you ask us to.
    A list of useful contact details is included at the end of this publication.
    c We will co-operate with your advisers to explain the facility and to clarify anything during the relationship.
    You are free to involve your advisers in discussions with us. You may need to give us specific permission to talk to them if you
    will not be present. Advisers can help both you and the bank to fully understand each other’s position.
    d Before you accept the facility, we will agree with you what sort of monitoring information we need and how
    often we need it.
    We will need to see information that tells us how your business is performing. You need to know how your business is running
    and should be able to show us that you are keeping on top of developments.
    We will write to you setting out what information is required by us and when. This is for the benefit of both of us and to avoid
    the possibility of future misunderstandings. What is appropriate will vary from case to case and we will make our needs clear.
    We believe best business practice includes a business plan and performance monitoring. We anticipate that you will have
    already produced what we ask you for, to help you run your business. It is not our aim to add unnecessary costs and burdens
    and we will limit these where possible. Examples of what we might need are:
    33
    • a comparison of the forecasts in your business plan, with actual results
    • progress on important aspects of the business plan, such as contract renewals
    • revised cash-flow forecasts
    • major capital spending proposals
    • annual accounts and regular management accounts
    • details of how much you owe creditors, and are owed by debtors, and for how long these have been due
    • proof that you are meeting any special conditions we and you have agreed.
    If your circumstances change, we will talk to you about any new information we will need from you.
    e If we are not able to offer you a facility we will explain the key reasons why, if you ask us to.
    There may be occasions when we are not able to offer you a facility. If this is the case, we will give you the key reasons why in writing if
    you ask us to and in person if you wish (unless we cannot do so for legal reasons).
    2 Sharing concerns
    a You should discuss any concerns you have about your current or future business performance with us as
    soon as possible. We will consider any financial difficulties you have sympathetically and positively and, if we
    have concerns about your business or our relationship with you, we will let you know in writing and offer to
    discuss these with you personally.
    You manage the business and should be the first to realise that problems are developing. You should talk to us as soon as
    possible about your concerns and your plans. In addition, we will use our wide experience and account monitoring systems to
    try to spot problems before they become obvious. If we do so we will contact you to discuss possible actions.
    Although these discussions may be difficult, we will be constructive and positive. Speaking to the bank about financial
    difficulties at your earliest opportunity will, in many cases, help us to agree terms of the bank’s support and return to
    running the business successfully. Not telling us about problems is likely to lead to unnecessary or serious difficulties.
    Occasionally we may need to contact you urgently, and we may do so by phone if possible, or by fax or e-mail.
    This list gives a few examples of what can cause us concern, particularly if you do not explain what is happening.
    • If you go overdrawn without our agreement.
    • If you go over your agreed overdraft limit, especially more than once.
    • If there are large increases or decreases in turnover.
    • If you are trading at a loss.
    • If you suddenly lose a key customer, contract or employee.
    • If you restructure your business through reorganisation, acquisition or sale.
    • If you use a facility for purposes other than agreed with us.
    • If you fail to make a loan repayment.
    • If you do not keep to conditions set out in the facility letter or loan agreement.
    • If you do not supply agreed monitoring information on time.
    • If another creditor commences legal action against your business.
    You may want to get independent advice when you become aware of problems. We will remind you of the benefits of getting
    independent advice when we contact you to tell you our concerns about your business or our relationship with you.
    b We may ask you for more financial information to help us work together to understand any problems.
    Financial information will help us to analyse the problems and understand your business’ needs and the main factors which
    affect its ability to remain viable and successful. It is often an advantage to have someone outside the business help you to
    decide how your business should proceed.
    If you have told us about problems at an early stage, there will be time to discuss and agree on any actions that need to be
    taken.
    34
    c We may suggest an independent review of your business.
    If we suggest that an independent review should be carried out, we will explain the reasons why, what we think should be
    done and will discuss with you how the review will take place, who should carry out the review and the costs you will have to
    pay.
    A review will be valuable to both of us as it will provide an independent view of the future prospects of the business. Someone
    with experience of these situations will be able to carry out the review fairly.
    The review will usually cover all the options, including assessing:
    • opportunities for improving cash flow and profitability
    • the main business activities or new markets
    • investment needs and refinancing options
    • recommendations for the future.
    3 Agreeing the way forward
    a If your business is reviewed, we will discuss with you (and your advisers) the information provided before
    reaching any conclusions or taking any action.
    We would expect the reviewer to have discussed the report with you before sending it to us. Discussions with us should give
    you a further opportunity to highlight any facts or opinions in the report that you disagree with. It is important that we both
    consider all the available information and all the options. We will take account of any other independent advice that you have
    received.
    If we agree on a way forward, you will need to prepare a new business plan to put that strategy into practice and to agree any
    new facilities. Sometimes the reviewer may be responsible for preparing, testing and monitoring this plan.
    If we cannot reach an agreement, we will make it clear why we feel unable to continue to support you. We will tell you when we
    will withdraw our support and will communicate these changes personally.
    b We will support a rescue plan, if we believe it will succeed.
    The key for both of us is to find a way forward that provides a lasting solution to the real problems and not just a quick fix. We
    will discuss with you the elements of the rescue plan and how it will achieve this aim. A successful rescue plan may
    involve changes to the business and its management, as well as changes to your facilities with us and we would expect
    you and others involved in running the business to view these changes positively.
    A rescue plan usually involves providing extra time, security and investment. A bank is unlikely to increase its risk as part of the
    arrangements, so you may need extra security if we agree extra lending, although we will always look at business assets for
    security first. It is possible that the cost of your borrowing may increase - if so, we will explain the reasons why.
    c If we do not think that the rescue plan will succeed, we will explain the reasons why and help you and your
    advisers to consider other options.
    In most cases, by continuing to work together, we will find an acceptable alternative way forward. If we cannot support your
    plan, we will discuss the possibility of giving you time to find other bankers.
    In serious situations, the way forward may involve an insolvency process.
    To protect businesses (directors and owners) experiencing financial difficulty, there is a range of insolvency procedures,
    including voluntary arrangements, administration and administrative receivership (but see paragraph 3e, below).
    All these procedures can allow the business to be restructured. If a restructure or a sale is not possible, we will help achieve an
    orderly wind-down using the most appropriate insolvency route. This is in the interests of all stakeholders, including directors and
    owners whose responsibilities are clearly recognised in law.
    If you want any information or advice about insolvency procedures, you should contact the Insolvency Service or a licensed
    insolvency practitioner.
    d If you make the changes agreed between us early enough to save the main business, we will not, other than in
    exceptional circumstances, start action to recover the amount you have borrowed.
    35
    Throughout the rescue plan, we will continue to work positively with you to support a lasting solution for a successful running of
    the business. To help us do this, it is important that you:
    • act in good faith
    • keep us informed about developments
    • keep to your agreements with us
    • carefully consider what your own and any independent advisers say
    • are prepared to make the necessary changes early enough.
    If we find, for example, that you have withheld important information or done something which affects the security we hold,
    we may have to start recovery action. This action may include appointing an administrative receiver (receiver in Scotland) or an
    administrator (if a company is involved), and will depend on the type of security we hold.
    A final decision not to continue to provide support is made at a senior level in the bank, on the recommendation of the relationship
    manager. We will explain the decision to you and provide a written explanation if you ask us to, unless we cannot do so for
    legal reasons.
    e If, after reviewing all the options with you, appointing an administrator or an administrative receiver (receiver in
    Scotland) is considered to be the most appropriate action to take, the decision to appoint the receiver will be
    confirmed within the bank at a senior level.
    The decision to appoint an administrator or receiver (either by the directors or us) is often taken in the light of a
    recommendation from an independent accountant who has knowledge of the business.
    In most cases, the directors invite the bank to appoint an administrator or administrative receiver after accepting that it is
    the most appropriate insolvency process based on very careful consideration of all the options available to protect the
    interests of the business, including the employees and creditors.
    Insolvency practitioners will decide whether to accept a formal appointment after considering guidance on ethical standards.
    As a result of the Enterprise Act, an administrative receiver can only be appointed under security taken before 15 September
    2003.
    If you give us good reasons why a member of the firm that has carried out an independent review should not be appointed as
    administrator, we will appoint a different administrator (unless there are exceptional circumstances). The same principle
    applies for administrative receivers and receivers in Scotland.
    4 Making a complaint
    a We have procedures to help sort out complaints and disagreements. We will act fairly and reasonably, and try to
    sort out problems quickly.
    We recognise that disagreements need to be dealt with quickly. Each bank’s procedures include your right to appeal to a
    higher authority in the bank if you feel that you have not been dealt with properly.
    We will communicate with you using plain language, and you are free to ask questions if you do not understand the complaints
    process or anything we are telling you.
    You are free to include your independent advisers in any discussions with us and we will talk directly to them if you authorise us to
    do so.
    Further information about our complaints process is available in branches or online.
    b You can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service if you are not happy with something we have done (or
    failed to do) and we are not able to sort out the problem to your satisfaction.
    The Financial Ombudsman Service is available to micro-enterprise businesses i.e. a business that employs fewer than 10
    persons and has a turnover or annual balance sheet that does not exceed €2 million.
    To complain to the Ombudsman you must have received a final response from us (or have waited more than eight weeks for
    a final response).
    36
    If you are still not happy, you should fill in a complaint form and send it to the service. We will give you details of the service, or
    you may contact the Financial Ombudsman Service direct (Financial Ombudsman Service).
    5 Switching your account to another bank
    a If you decide to move your current account to another bank, we will give them information on your standing
    orders and direct debits within three working days of receiving their request to do this.
    We realise that if you are not happy with the service we give you, you might want to move your current account to another bank.
    Therefore, if asked by the new bank, we will send, within three working days, all the information necessary to transfer your direct
    debits and standing orders.
    b In the absence of exceptional circumstances relating to the transfer of charges or securities, the lenders will
    complete the transfer of accounts within five working days, when timely information is provided by the
    customer.
    Once your application for a new account has been successfully completed and the old and new bank have swapped information
    on your direct debits and standing orders, both banks will ensure that, unless there are exceptional circumstances relating to the
    transfer of charges or securities, the transfer of your account will be complete in five working days.
    Useful contacts
    For businesses that experience difficulties with their banks at branch level, banks have provided a central point of contact to
    discuss your concerns. Details of each bank’s central telephone number are available on the bank’s website.
    Last edited by Tools; 30th November 2014 at 21:24:PM.
    “We may not win by protesting, but if we don’t protest we will lose. If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win.” Hetty Bower

    Any advice I provide is given without liability, if you are unsure please seek professional legal guidance.

    Find Solicitors offering fixed fees on our sister site - JustBeagle.com

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