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Consumer protection: Can you be sued if you have not read the contract?
In Figurasin and another v Central Capital Ltd and another company  EWCA Civ 504,  All ER (D) 178 (Apr) the county court found that the first defendant had mis-sold the claimants PPI in breach of the Insurance Conduct of Business Rules and ordered it to pay damages.
The first defendant appealed on the basis that a telephone conversation and the relevant documents, taken together, had given the claimants a full and clear breakdown of the cost of PPI. The claimants admitted that they had not read the documentation. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, holding that, even if treated as part of one overall process, the judge had been entitled to find that there had been a breach of the ICOB rules and there were no grounds for interfering with his judgment.
Harriet Quiney, a partner with DWF Fishburns’ commercial insurance team, discusses the ruling and how failing to read documents may not be fatal to claims if other documents are actively misleading.
In particular she advises that the court was clear that consumers must act responsibly, but if a firm positively misleads a consumer, the consumers’ failure to pick up on information that was contained (and only contained rather than explained) in a loan agreement will not cancel out the firm’s failing. Lawyers should therefore be advising firms that they should be reviewing their telephone scripts and client letters and advising consumers that failing to read documents may not be fatal to their claims if other documents are actively misleading.
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