18Nov

Swansea-based claims management company (CMC) JAS Financial Services has gone into liquidation, leaving its clients unsure if they will be able to reclaim the fees they paid to the company.

The company, which traded as Litchfield Price, Hampton Rae and NLC Solutions, typically asked for an upfront fee of £300 to £500 before it would represent a client in a payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-selling claim. It promised to refund these fees if the claim was unsuccessful, but a number of the firm’s clients have claimed that their fees have not been refunded, after the company failed to make progress with their claim.

The clients’ concerns have been backed up by the Legal Ombudsman, which can adjudicate on complaints about CMCs where the client and the company disagree. In a statement in August 2016, the Ombudsman said:

“We have been advised by a number of complainants that, in the initial sales call, JAS told them that their claims would be resolved quickly, and that the upfront fee was refundable in the event that all claims were ultimately unsuccessful.
“We are concerned that, by failing to adequately progress claims, JAS are delaying payment of fees where a refund may be due.”
The Ombudsman also said that JAS was failing to keep clients informed as to the progress of their claims, which certainly constitutes a breach of the Claims Management Regulator’s rules.

The statement on the Ombudsman’s website listed its concerns with JAS as:

• Taking upfront fees, but then not adequately progressing claims
• Not keeping clients updated
• Regularly taking more than eight weeks to reach a decision on a complaint from one of their clients
• Failing to co-operate with requests for information from the Ombudsman

The statement also explained in detail the experiences of Mrs A, who paid £495 to JAS as an upfront fee. Of the four PPI claims she made, three were definitely unsuccessful, but as regards the fourth, the Ombudsman says “there was no evidence that the claim was ever submitted to the PPI provider.” The only update Mrs A ever received from JAS regarding the fourth claim came some four months after the start of her dealings with the firm, and this was an extremely generic email which read:

“We have received your documents back … we will generally send off the requests for information within the next 7 days … when we get the results in, if you have PPI then we will submit your claim … as soon as we do we will email you and let you know.”

Mrs A provided the Ombudsman with evidence that she had contacted JAS seeking updates on her claim, but the company was unable to demonstrate that they responded to these requests.

The Ombudsman decided that JAS, by failing to progress the claim and failing to keep her informed, had “essentially abandoned Mrs A’s claim.” It therefore decided that the fourth claim must also be regarded as having been “unsuccessful” and that the upfront fee must be refunded to her. JAS was also ordered to pay a further £100 to Mrs A as compensation for the inconvenience caused.

The company’s activities were also highlighted in the BBC Wales consumer affairs programme X-Ray.

JAS’s liquidator, McAlister & Co, has advised clients who paid their fee via credit card to contact their card provider. Under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, the card provider must provide protection for purchases of more than £100 in value.

Clients who paid by debit card should also contact their card issuer. Although section 75 only applies to credit card purchases, debit card clients can make a claim under the ‘chargeback protection’ facility. Any such claim must be made within 120 days of the client becoming aware of a potential problem.

A spokesperson for McAlister & Co said:

“We advise that customers contact their card company direct to get their money back where they paid by card. If not, customers can then get in touch with us and they will then be registered as a company creditor.”

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.