CAB Adviser in Repo Case not Authorised

CAB Adviser in Repo Case not Authorised

A Scottish Citizen Advice Bureau has admitted that it’s adviser, in a home repossession case, was not authorised to act as an Approved Lay Representative for the Defender.

In General Asset Management v Catherine Ruane, a case which involved a homeowner who had accrued mortgage arrears, Sheriff Jamieson has held Ms Ruane could proceed with her application for recall, as the Approved Lay Representative had not been authorised to act in the initial hearing.

The Facts

Ms Ruane had accrued mortgage arrears and faced an action for repossession by the secured lender.

At the initial hearing she was represented by a Citizen Advice Bureau employee who sought a continuation, to allow investigation of an insurance policy.

The Pursuer’s agent however, asked for the Court to grant decree. The Sheriff was not convinced, however, either Party had sufficient instructions to address the Court on whether it was reasonable or not to grant decree and continued the case.

At the second hearing, Ms Ruane’s Partner appeared and asked that he represent her, in her absence, which the Sheriff refused.

The Sheriff then continued the case for a second time.

At the third hearing, Ms Ruane did not appear, nor was she represented.

The Sheriff, after representations were made by the Pursuer’s agent, granted decree. Ms Ruane then attempted to recall the decree using a solicitor, but as she had previously been represented by the Citizen Advice Bureau, the Pursuer argued this prevented Ms Ruane succeeding in her application for recall.

The Citizen Advice Bureau, however, had contacted the Sheriff Court to state that their adviser had not been properly authorised under The Lay Representation in Proceedings Relating to Residential Property (Scotland) Order 2010 to act as an Approved Lay Representative.

This Order requires CABx, Local Authorities and other agencies authorised to provide Approved Lay Representatives for home repossesion cases to ensure those representatives are sufficiently experienced, skilled and knowledgeable in repossession law before authorising them to act. They also must have procedure for doing so, and must be able to evidence this.

Sheriff Jameson held that as the Ms Ruane had not been represented by an authorised Lay Representative, she could proceed with her application to recall the decree that had been granted against her.


From the facts of the case, it does not appear the CAB adviser acted negligently, albeit all the facts are not known.

At the first hearing, to request a continuation to investigate an insurance policy appears to have been a perfectly reasonable approach and one any qualified solicitor may have taken.

It’s also interesting to note, at the first hearing the Sheriff was not convinced either party had instructions to address him on the reasonableness of granting decree to evict, despite the agent for the Puruser’s submitting it was reasonable.

Why at the second hearing the client’s Partner appeared and asked to represent her is not clear. Why the CAB adviser was not present is not known either. We do not know if the Bureaux had declined to provide further representation or whether the client failed to instruct them.

Why at the final hearing, Ms Ruane did not appear and was not represented is not clear either.

However, the CAB admission that their adviser was not authorised to represent the client is significant . The thought that an adviser was able to represent in a repossession case and was not authorised must surely lead to questions being asked.

Fortunately, however, that admission did allow Ms Ruane to continue with her application for recall.


This case clearly raises questions why an unauthorised adviser was able to represent in a repossession case, although from the facts there does not appear to be any indication the adviser was negligent, which raises the question why did the CAB later state their adviser was not authorised.

It’s pure speculation, but knowing Dumfries and Galloway CAB (which is a highly respected Bureau) and many of their advisers, many of whom are more than capable, I am wondering if their inability to evidence the procedure they used to authorise their representative was the problem?

It’s easy to see how, where a solicitor requesting a recall for a client who may have been represented by a Bureau adviser, may seek evidence that an adviser was properly authorised. If that Bureau, or other advice agency, was not able to evidence the process they had used, it would seem possible that agency could be challenged on whether they had properly authorised their staff member to act in accordance with the legislation.

Clearly advice agencies will have to ensure, where they don’t already, that they have clear formal procedures in place for authorising Approved Lay Representatives.

It is also possible to see how this may now have implications for Money Advice agencies and Insolvency Practitioners in relation to the Debt Arrangement Scheme and Certificate of Sequestration, where staff members can be authorised to act by the Organisation or Insolvency Practitioner.

Verbal authorisation may not be enough and clear policies and procedures should be in place to show that any authorisation has been carried out legitimately and in accordance with legislative requirements.

Lenders Demand Protection for Consumers against Protection

Lenders Demand Protection for Consumers against Protection

A Consumer Credit Trade Body, the CCTA, that represents over 250 consumer lenders, including firms that specialise in log book loans, high-cost credit and guarantor loans, has come out and demanded greater protection for vulnerable consumers against over-zealous financial regulators who are capping interest rates, fixing prices and awarding mis-sold loan compensation.

The CCTA has expressed their concerns that UK financial regulators, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Financial Ombudsman Service are “squeezing out the middle”.

The CCTA is worried vulnerable UK consumers are now being denied the opportunity to borrow at usurious interest rates and are being encouraged by the Financial Ombudsman to claim against irresponsible lenders who burdened them with unaffordable loans and at interest rates that trapped them in a world of rolling over debt.

Such is the CCTA’s concern, it is now calling for:

“…balance and proportionality in…regulation… and to find some consensus with consumer voices as to what ultimately is the best, or least harmful, outcome for consumers who are going to need access to credit come what may”.

Presumably that “least harmful outcome” does not involve interest rate capping, as has been introduced by the Financial Conduct Authority for pay day lenders, or price capping that will soon be applied to rent to buy firms such as BrightHouse.  Nor, no doubt, will it involve allowing the Financial Ombudsman Service to right the wrongs consumers suffered at the hands of the predatory lenders who sold nearly 60 million payment protection insurance policies to over 30 million consumers, and which has seen nearly £40 billion paid back in compensation.

Instead the over-arching message the CCTA wants to get over is:

“…the cascade of regulation in the past 4-5 years has reached a point where the powers-that-be risk harming consumers instead of protecting them…”

and presumably wants to see an end to the:

“over-regulation… racket of dubious legality that is targeting lenders with historic ‘affordability’ claims, seemingly aided and abetted by FOS”.

Thank god, the CCTA has now eventually found its consumer champion voice and is speaking out in the interests of consumers.

Only the most cynical would wonder why we didn’t hear that voice when these historic, unaffordable loans were being mis-sold; or when payday lenders were using business models that were based on rolling over loans for the most vulnerable multiple times over, whilst charging interest rates of 1,000’s of percent.

Only the most cynical would think the real reason the CCTA has found its consumer voice and is calling for greater protection for consumers against bureaucracy loving regulators is because

“.. the rate of business closure in.. [their]…own association..”

is now on the rise.

However, the CCTA have also expressed concern at the rising number of consumers now turning to family and friend for loans (presumably because they would prefer they took out loans with their members and got their family and friends to act as guarantors) and illegal loan sharks (whilst failing to recognise that many of those who are using illegal money lenders also previously used sub-prime lenders and cannot now access legal credit because the over-indebted mess they have been plunged into).

The brutal truth though is the CCTA are being delusional if they think they can find common cause with consumer protection voices, whilst attacking the increased regulation that we have seen over the last 4-5 years, which is finally bringing under control the Wild West lending environment that was allowed to flourish after the credit crunch.

They are also in a state of self-denial if they believe that unaffordable lending can ever have a role in creating a well-regulated, balanced consumer credit market (and before they begin complaining about the rise in unaffordability claims, they should remember tens of thousands will never see a penny of those claims as lenders like Wonga exit the market).

The problem is the reaction by the CCTA and their member to the financial regulation of the FCA is entirely predictable and foreseeable.

It also shows how much they really think of consumer protection voices, if they think some common ground can be found, that no doubt will be predicated on self-regulation and voluntary industry regulation (yep, cause that worked so well last time).

They also seem to be deluded in believing these bad practices, now being stamped out, previously served some social good.

They didn’t.

Access to credit, particularly for the most vulnerable, is definitely a problem, but it has to be solved by providing people with access to affordable credit, not by leaving people vulnerable to predatory lenders, intent on mis-selling loans, whilst charging usury interest rates and leaving it for the lenders or the distressed borrowers themselves to subjectively define what constitutes affordable.

(This is a satirical blog and contains the personal views of the author. The full statement by the CCTA can be found here.)