Simon Read: Someone has at last stood up to claims managers

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The Independent Online

After independent financial adviser Alan Lakey of Highclere Financial Services got a letter from a claims management firm he was fuming.

"They listed seven explicit allegations of mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI), none of which were true," he said. "I have never sold PPI."

It was not the first time he had been targeted by dodgy claims managers with speculative and spurious claims, but the third time it happened was once too often for Alan.

"I had to spend some time contacting the client they mentioned, as well as getting in touch with the building society who had her mortgage to check the details," he says.

"The Nationwide informed me the claims managers had sent a letter with the same seven allegations, only to be told there had never been any PPI sold. It was after that they'd chanced their luck with me."

In his anger he invoiced Aims Reclaim for £100 for wasting his professional time. When they refused to pay he took them to court.

In the case heard earlier this month at Accrington Crown Court the judge found in his favour. Alan says the judge ruled that Aims Reclaim owed him a duty of care in establishing whether a PPI policy existed before alleging it was missold.

"The judge's decision confirms claims firms cannot recklessly level accusations about events that did not take place. Further, they cannot make allegations the client has not made or was not even aware of."

The judge forced the claims manager to pay £100 to Alan for wasting his time plus a further £240.20 in legal costs.

"Even then the claims manager asked for a confidentiality clause, which the judge of course refused," Alan says.

He's still angry. "The company's behaviour has been lamentable throughout. It's my view that many claims managers are simply professional fraudsters in the guise of consumer champions."

There's no getting away from the fact that the PPI mis-selling scandal was one of the UK financial service industry's most shameful events. But dodgy claims managers have added to the misery for victims as well as innocent advisers.

As an aside, it's worth noting that the Ministry of Justice closed down 209 claims firms between April and November last year.

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