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Credit Services Association

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Sir Bobby Robson Way

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Newcastle Upon Tyne

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Complaints Procedure

Useful Links

Making a complaint

We work hard to ensure our Members act within the rules set by the industry regulators.

Please click on the following link and read our Code of Practice. If you think a Member has broken the rules of this Code you can make a complaint by downloading our Complaints Form.

Before making a complaint we would encourage you to carry out the following activities:

 

  • Go to the Members Directory and check whether the company you wish to complain about is a Member of the CSA. If you are still unsure, feel free to contact us. If the company is a Member of the CSA then we are able to help you with your complaint.
  • On first instance, we recommend you contact the Member company to discuss any issues you have and enquire about their complaints process. If you are still dissatisfied with the outcome then you can review our Complaints Procedure.
  • If you believe that the Member has acted in breach of our Code of Practice and the complaint meets the necessary criteria, please complete, sign and return the Complaint Form to our registered address.

CSA Complaints Procedure

 How we deal with your complaint.

All complaints must be submitted in writing, with a signed complaint form. We require the form to be signed so that we, and our Member, have the requisite authorisation to share information.

The following is the sequence of events after the CSA receive a complaint form;

  • CSA receive a signed complaint form
  • CSA register the complaint and send a copy to the relevant Member company
  • The Member is given four weeks to respond directly to the complainant
  • CSA get a copy of the response from the Member company
  • CSA considers both positions and determines whether the Code of Practice has been breached
  • Appropriate action is taken (if required) to remedy the situation
  • If further information is required the CSA contact the relevant party (the complainant or the Member company).
  • After a full review, the CSA provides a formal response to the complainant

 

If you remain unhappy with the outcome of the complaint, you may have justification to escalate the matter to our our head of compliance, Claire Aynsley, claire.aynsley@csa-uk.com.

 

Please note: The CSA can only intervene when;

  • a Member company is in breach of the Code.
  • the company is a Member of the CSA (we cannot act when the complaint is about the client of a Member company, a bank or building society for example).
  • the information supplied by a Member company appears from the facts to be incorrect.

Methods of Contact

 

Address

Credit Services Association

Complaints Department

2 Esh Plaza

Sir Bobby Robson Way

Newcastle-upon-Tyne

NE13 9BA

 

Why the CSA need a signed copy of your complaint

 

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12-05-2017

Blog: Challenging times: Preparing for Pre-action Protocol for Debt Claims

Leigh Berkley is former President and current Board Director of the Credit Services Association (CSA) and Director of External Affairs & Development at Arrow Global. He has been heavily involved in engaging with the Ministry of Justice on the introduction of Pre-action Protocol for debt claims for the past year.

 

Publication of the Pre-action Protocol for debt claims (PAP) in March finally closed a long-running saga that had more potential endings than a Hollywood whodunit. In the end, there was indeed a final plot twist, but primarily in the timing, for the Protocol is to come into effect in October 2017, leaving creditors and claimants with little time to prepare.

So who does the Protocol apply to, what are its aims, what does the Protocol demand, and what advice can we give to creditors in adopting the new process?

The Protocol applies to any business (including sole traders and public bodies) claiming payment of a debt from an individual (including a sole trader). It does not apply to business-to-business debts (unless the customer is a sole trader), neither does it apply to HMRC.

                                 

Early engagement

The Protocol’s aims in its broadest sense are to encourage early engagement and communication between the parties, including early exchange of sufficient information to help clarify whether there are any issues in dispute. It is intended to help both parties to resolve the matter and avoid court proceedings, including agreeing a reasonable repayment plan, obtaining free debt advice or considering Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

The way in which the parties engage is intended to be both reasonable and proportionate, and support the efficient management of proceedings that cannot be avoided. So how does it work?

First off, the creditor is obliged to send a Letter of Claim to the debtor (the Courts have yet to adopt the word ‘customer’ and have defaulted to their terminology throughout the protocol) before proceedings are started. This letter must detail the amount of the debt and whether interest or other charges are continuing.

Where the debt arises from a written agreement, it must include the date of the agreement and the parties to it, and where the debt has been assigned, the details of the original debt and creditor, when it was assigned and to whom must similarly be given. Please note that you do not have to send the original agreement at this stage.

If regular instalments are currently being offered by, or on behalf of, the customer, or are being paid, it must include an explanation of why the offer is not acceptable and why a court claim is still being considered. It must also contain details of how the debt can be paid (for example, the method, and address for payment) and details of how to proceed if the customer wishes to discuss payment options. It must also include the address to which the completed Reply Form should be sent.

 

Documents to be enclosed with the Letter of Claim

The claimant is also obliged to enclose certain documents including an up-to-date statement of account for the debt, which should include details of any interest and administrative or other charges added; the most recent statement of account for the debt and state in the Letter of Claim the amount of interest incurred and any administrative or other charges imposed since that statement of account was issued, sufficient to bring it up to date; or where no statements have been provided for the debt, state in the letter the amount of interest incurred and any administrative or other charges imposed since the debt was incurred.

A new Information Sheet (a note that explains how the customer can still avoid court and/or signposting them to further advice) and a Reply Form (with a series of simple ‘tick boxes’) must also be included, alongside a financial statement form (for example, the Standard Financial Statement). Details of the protocol itself can be found here.

The Letter of Claim should be clearly dated toward the top of the first page. It should be posted either on the day it is dated or, if that is not reasonably possible, the following day. Letters should be sent by post unless the customer has made an explicit request otherwise, and an alternative channel has been agreed. A condition in a creditor’s standard terms does not constitute an explicit request.

If the customer does not reply to the Letter of Claim within 30 days of the date of the letter, the creditor may start court proceedings, subject to any remaining obligations the creditor may have to the customer (for example, under the Financial Conduct Authority’s Handbook). Account should be taken of the possibility that a reply was posted towards the end of the 30-day period.

So what are the obligations for the customer? The customer is obliged to read the Information Sheet and complete the Reply Form, and request copies of any documents they wish to see and enclose copies of any documents they consider relevant, such as details of payments made but not taken into account in the creditor’s Letter of Claim. 

 

Debt advice

If the customer indicates that they are seeking debt advice, the creditor must allow the customer a reasonable period for the advice to be obtained. In any event, the creditor should not start court proceedings less than 30 days from receipt of the completed Reply Form, or 30 days from the creditor providing any documents requested by the customer (or explaining that they are not available), whichever is the later.

If the customer indicates in the Reply Form that they are seeking debt advice that cannot be obtained within 30 days of their reply, the customer must provide details to the creditor as specified in the Reply Form. The creditor should allow reasonable extra time for the customer to obtain that advice where it would be reasonable to do so in the circumstances.

Where a customer indicates that they require time to pay, the creditor and customer should try to reach agreement for the debt to be paid by instalments, based on the customer’s income and expenditure (I&E). In trying to agree affordable sums for repayment, the creditor should have regard where appropriate to the provisions of the Standard Financial Statement or equivalent guidance. If the creditor does not agree to a customer’s proposal for repayment of the debt, they should give the customer reasons in writing.

A partially completed Reply Form should be taken by the creditor as an attempt by the customer to engage. (The Court will not be taking a pedantic view or rejecting documents on a technicality, rather they appear to be adopting a pragmatic approach.) The creditor should attempt to contact the customer to discuss the Reply Form and obtain any further information needed to understand the customer’s position.

 

Early disclosure

The Protocol suggests that the early disclosure of documents and relevant information can help to clarify or resolve any issues in dispute. Where any aspect of the debt is disputed (including the amount, interest, charges, time for payment, or the creditor’s compliance with relevant statutes and regulations), the parties should exchange information and disclose documents sufficient to enable them to understand each other’s position. 

If the customer requests additional documents or information, the creditor must either provide those documents or information requested or explain why it is unable to do so within 30 days of receipt of the request. 

If the parties still cannot agree about the existence, enforceability, amount or any other aspect of the debt, they should both take appropriate steps to resolve the dispute without starting court proceedings and, in particular, should consider the use of an appropriate form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). ADR may simply take the form of discussion and negotiation, or it may involve some more formal process such as a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) where the dispute concerns a credit agreement.

If a matter proceeds to litigation, the court will expect the parties to have complied with this Protocol. The court will take into account non-compliance when giving directions for the management of proceedings. Various sanctions are available to the Court, as set out in Practice Direction.

 

Desired effect

Whether the Protocol will have the desired effect, only time will tell, and a number of issues and challenges undoubtedly remain, not least the fact that the industry is yet to fully adopt the Standard Financial Statement and, despite our representations, will have only until 1 October 2017 to implement PAP.

The Reply Form remains, for many consumers, overly complex, and it will be interesting to hear from creditors and CSA members as to how frequently it is used. Given that creditors are obliged to follow a Protocol in the full knowledge that nine out of every ten court claims go uncontested, it may be assumed that nine out of every ten Reply Forms will similarly be ignored.

The greatest challenge, however, is with the timetable. The Master of the Rolls is only giving firms six months before the Protocol comes into force, so businesses need to be testing their systems and processes now to understand how readily it can be accommodated.

The CSA has already been helping members to prepare, with a well-attended webinar still available through the Member Zone on the CSA website, and briefings being organised at forthcoming Creditor Forums, Buyers’ Meeting and DCA Meetings. It will also be seeking further feedback to see how PAP is working in practice for creditors and their customers.