Scope of fiduciary duties extended to cover credit brokers

Scope of fiduciary duties extended to cover credit brokers

In what circumstances will the court request for the disclosure of commission? Adam Finch, litigation partner in Harrison Clark Rickerbys, comments on the effect of the recent Court of Appeal judgment in McWilliams v Norton Finance.

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McWilliams v Norton Finance (UK) Limited (in liquidation) [2015] EWCA Civ 186

This appeal was heard by the Court of Appeal on 2nd December 2014. It is an appeal from the decision of Mrs Recorder Mullen in Middlesbrough County Court dated 7 June 2011. It concerned a secured loan of £25,000 unregulated by the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (CCA 1974), with single premium payment protection insurance (PPI) of £3,745. The loan was to consolidate existing debts and to finance a conservatory. Norton was paid a broker fee of £750 and a completion fee of £500. Norton was a member of FISA and was authorised by the Financial Services Authority for general insurance intermediation.

Norton had made an admission in the proceedings that it had received commission for selling the loan and PPI. This admission was made to try and keep the claim simple and get the case on to the fast-track. This failed and the case was allocated to the multi-track. At trial, Norton’s counsel sought to withdraw that admission. The counsel for the borrowers did not object in the proper manner. The trial judge appeared to allow Norton to resile from its admission. After assessing the evidence which included oral evidence from Norton’s compliance manager Mrs Gregory the claim was dismissed with costs.

Lord Justice Buxton granted permission to appeal in October 2011. Norton then went into liquidation. The borrowers’ solicitors then sought to abandon the case and a consent order was drawn up and sealed compromising the case. Subsequently Mr Hodge Malek QC successfully made an application to the Court of Appeal on 15 May 2014 for this consent order to be set aside and for the appeal to be re-opened under the Civil Procedure Rules 1998, SI 1998/3132,

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