Barclays Partner Finance, The Financial Conduct Authority and Azure Resorts
Readers of our website will recall the article that we published last year, Azure Resorts Timeshare – Landmark Decision Opens the Door to Millions of Claims.
In the article we discussed the decision of the Judge in the case of Plaxedes Chickombe & Others v FCA & Others  UKUT 0258. We explained there had been breaches by Barclays Partner Finance of technical requirements contained within the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and that in particular the company that had brokered consumer credit loans to purchase timeshare in Malta with Azure Resorts in circumstances where it had not been properly authorized to do so.
We explained that the effect of that case was that the matter would be referred back to the FCA to further review the decision to issue validation orders to take into account consumer detriment.
We are aware that a number of unregulated claims companies have been wrongly interpreting the above case as being “ongoing” or that there was “group litigation”. The reality is that the FCA is the Banks’ regulatory body and it has been undertaking a review, independent of the Courts, and that review has now been completed. The decision will no doubt be of disappointment to readers who have engaged with unregulated cold calling claims companies, for the following reasons:
- The determination is of limited application, only applying to certain loans during a limited period.
- The determination is limited in scope and only applies to technical breaches of The Financial Services Markets Act 2000. It does not deal with alleged misrepresentations made by Azure to induce the purchases in the first place or remedies that would be available against lenders pursuant to Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
- The FCA has determined that Barclays Partner Finance will now have the benefit of a Validation Order, thereby retrospectively curing technical defects referred to. The Validation Order is, however, subject to certain conditions, those conditions being:
- That Barclays Partner Finance Plc refund all interest fees and charges with respect to the loan; or
- The loan will be interest free.
The remedy above, whilst welcomed by certain consumers that purchased timeshares from Azure, does not give a full remedy in that:
- Clients will still remain liable for their timeshare, including the annual maintenance fees.
- The loan principle (i.e. the money that was borrowed) remains outstanding. It is not being written off. Barclays Partner Finance does concede quite properly that the loan is unenforceable and that it will not take steps to enforce the agreement, should customers default on their payments, however that concession is caveated by the declaration that in the event that a customer does default, their default will be reported to credit reference agencies.
- There will be no compensation for any deposits or additional payments made to Azure Resorts by way of bank transfer.
As readers of our website are aware, we have been submitting a substantial number of complaints to the banks and the Financial Ombudsman Service. The issues in the Plaxedes case only formed a minor part of the complaints we were making on our clients’ behalf. The main thrust of the complaints supported by similar fact evidence are as follows:
- Misrepresentations induced consumers to enter into purchase agreements and linked loans to acquire at significant expense worthless timeshares and that Barclays Partner Finance are jointly and severally liable pursuant to Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
- That the high pressure sales tactics deployed by Azure (as agents for the bank) along with a failure to disclose or provide proper information as to the true nature of what was being purchased gives rise to an unfair relationship contrary to section 140A of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
We are pleased to say that we are now beginning to obtain opinions from the Financial Ombudsman Service and clients’ complaints have been upheld.
An example of this is an elderly gentleman who we shall refer to as “Mr P”. Mr P entered into a number of agreements with Barclays Partner Finance to purchase timeshares from Azure Resorts in Malta. Each purchase was sold as “an upgrade”. The majority of his purchases were funded by loans with Barclays Partner Finance and claims were brought, as set out above, supported by similar fact evidence and detailed legal submissions. We are pleased to say that Mr P’s complaint has been upheld in full and the following remedies have been achieved:
- Relevant loans written off.
- Refund of all principle and loan payments.
- Interest at 8% per annum on all payments recovered.
- Barclays Partner Finance to assume responsibility for the ownership of the timeshare. Fortunately, this latter remedy was not necessary as this firm deployed legal arguments to terminate the timeshare management fees liability long ago.
Mr P has now received his compensation in full. All of the work has been undertaken on a no win – no fee basis.
Similar success has been obtained in respect of loans taken out to purchase a similar product from Azure’s sister company Silverpoint Club Paradiso Limited which, like Azure Resorts Limited, fallen into liquidation.
All of the claims undertaken by this firm are personally overseen by our Partner and Head of Commercial Litigation, Stephen Boyd, who has been practicing as a solicitor for almost 20 years and was one of the first legal practitioners to specialise in timeshare dispute resolution. Stephen is ably supported by his team of solicitors, trainee solicitors and paralegals.
It is important that customers of Barclays Partner Finance affected by the mis-selling of timeshares by Azure Resorts take steps to ensure that their timeshare ownership is brought to an end and compensation claims are brought in good time. Such claims need to be pursued and evidenced pursuant to Section 75 and 140A of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and it is recommended that an experienced solicitor is engaged to claim and formulate relevant legal submissions. There are time limits. Generally speaking, if a complaint is not made within 6 years then a victim of timeshare fraud might be out of time unless they can deploy challenging arguments under Section 32 of the Limitation Act 1980.
How Athena Law Can Help
Athena Law is a regulated firm of solicitors. Mr. Boyd and his team and solicitors are experts in timeshare law and UK finance claims. We are happy to undertake initial review of your case and potential claims without charge and determine if you have grounds for terminating your timeshare or if you have a claim for compensation.
If you have grounds to terminate your timeshare and/or bring a compensation claim we can offer you a fixed fee and/or no win – no fee retainer.
About the author
Stephen Boyd is one of the owners and co-founders of Athena Law, a firm of solicitors regulated by the Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Mr Boyd has been practicing commercial and consumer litigation for almost 20 years and has developed a niche practice in dealing with timeshare disputes and indeed was one of the first UK solicitors to work in this area and has appeared in all forms of media, including television, print and media.
Links to Mr Boyd’s media work can be found below. Alternatively, they can be accessed from the Athena Law website – athlaw.co.uk, or its subsidiary site specialising in timeshare issues – timeshare-solicitor.co.uk.
Our Trust Pilot Reviews can be viewed here:
Contact us for a free consultation
If you need any advice or further information regarding this article, please contact us.
As discussed above we offer a free initial consultation and if clients have a viable claim, we offer a variety of retainer options including no win – no fee arrangements. Every case or potential case will have to be assessed, however, on its own merits.
If you have found this article interesting and would like to learn more about how Athena Law can help you please feel free to contact the writer, Stephen Boyd, at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the contact page on the website.