Lloyds offers couple a way out of ruin

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The Independent Online
STEVE BOGGAN

and MARK LISTER

A couple who won pounds 77,500 damages from Lloyds Bank have been offered a chance to avoid being bankrupted in a pounds 150,000 counter-claim by the bank's lawyers.

Richard Spindler and Julia Verity made legal history last September when they were awarded damages over bad loan advice given by a branch manager. However, as the case resumed, they faced ruin because of a disputed claim over earlier mortgages which the bank says are still outstanding.

During yesterday's hearing at the High Court in Leeds, Mr Spindler, 36, an acupuncturist, and Mrs Verity, a 55-year-old teacher, both from Henley, in Oxfordshire, were offered a compromise which would leave them owing about pounds 27,000 instead of the pounds 160,000 initially claimed by the bank. They argue that they owe nothing.

Gregory Mitchell, counsel for the bank, said the couple owed pounds 150,000 on loans, including the mortgage on a failed property speculation and interest. However, when making their statement of claim in the last case, the couple demanded interest only up to December 1990, instead of the present day.

Mr Mitchell said the bank, in its turn, was now prepared to return to December 1990 when the interest was lower on all outstanding accounts. Lloyds Bank would credit the couple with the pounds 77,529 won at the earlier hearing which would then pay off all the loans and leave a mortgage debt of pounds 27,000 pounds, plus the interest to date. That, amounting to about pounds 10,000, would be offset by a claim for loss of earnings on Mrs Verity's part for about the same amount.

Mr Mitchell said: "My counter-claim still stands for the full figure, but so the plaintiffs don't have the full interest on their accounts . . . I can short- circuit it in the way I have done by returning to December 1990." It is understood the couple were considering the offer last night. The case continues.

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