Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

New financial penalties for claims management companies

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At the end of December 2014, the Government introduced a new scheme for the imposition of financial penalties on claims management companies (CMC) that fail to adhere to the regulations that control this sector of the legal services market. Made under provisions in the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Act 2013, from 29 December 2014, the imposition of a financial penalty becomes an additional available enforcement sanction for use against non-compliant authorised persons under the following circumstances:
• As a consequence of a failure to comply with the Conduct of Authorised Persons Rules
• As a consequence of a failure to comply with requirements regarding the provision of
information or documents to the Regulator
• As a consequence of a failure to comply with a requirement to take out a policy of
professional indemnity insurance
• As a result of the Regulator being obstructed in its execution of a warrant to enter and search
premises for the purposes of investigating a complaint about the activities of a regulated
CMC, or assessing the regulated CMC’s compliance with the conditions of its authorisation
• As a result of the Regulator being obstructed from attempting to take possession of, or copies
of written or electronic records found when executing a warrant to enter and search premises.

It should be noted that these penalties are not imposed by a court but by the regulator of CMCs. The guidance states:

“In practice under the CMR Unit’s revised Enforcement Policy, a financial penalty is likely to be
considered where:
– Breaches have continued despite previous compliance advice or warnings
– Detriment caused to consumers or third parties in general can be clearly monetised
– Any financial gain or loss avoided by the business can be monetised
– The business has sufficient financial means to pay a penalty
– No previous formal enforcement action has been imposed
– Action to vary, suspend or cancel the authorisation of a business would be disproportionate
under the circumstances
This list is non-exhaustive but sets out some relevant indicators that are likely to be considered when
deciding whether to initiate the penalty calculation process or move to consider the other formal
enforcement sanctions.”

Full details of the scheme are set out at https://www.gov.uk//government/publications/claims-management-companies-financial-penalties-guidance

In addition it should be noted that from January 2015, the Legal Ombudsman will have power to deal with complaints about bad practice by CMCs.

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Written by lwtmp

January 10, 2015 at 5:52 pm

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