In this occasional series of blogs, I recall some memorable cases which I have dealt with.
This is the story of one that is probably one of the most satisfying cases I have dealt with in recent years.
Mr M initially came to me through a referral from another client (as indeed do more than 80% of my clients, which is a figure I am absurdly proud about)
Initially, the case seemed a pretty straightforward payment protection insurance case. I will normally have a chat with a new client about their recollections etc, but on this occasion Mr M was never available. Mrs M always took the calls and said she was happy to act as go-between. Anyway, after a few conversations, we were getting on well and Mrs M explained that Mr M would not talk to any financial company at all, not even me who was trying to help him.
The whole story then came tumbling out. Mr M’s first wife had apparently taken out loans with Natwest without Mr M knowing, forging his signature on the documents. Some of these loans had PPI, which I had been asked to recover. In their subsequent divorce, Mr M had had to take on some of these loans, even though he had not taken them out or seen any of the money borrowed. He thought, post divorce, he would be able to sort the situation out with the bank.
Sadly, he thought wrong. Over some years, Mr M tried in vain to get Natwest to see that he had not been involved in the loans. This became more and more important because he was unable to make the loan repayments and had fallen into arrears. The bank simply refused to listen and started chasing him for the debt, using debt collection agents.
Mrs M (his new wife) had had to try and sort it out for him, because the bank had put him under so much stress and pressure that he was close to cracking. And this was a tough soldier who had fought for his country in Iraq and Afghanistan. It goes to show just how ruthless the banks can be, when a man can face death and see his friends and colleagues die and keep going, only to be brought to the edge by a bank chasing debts.
Of course, I could not turn my back on this situation, so offered to see if I could help. By this time, I had actually made progress with the bank over PPI and had secured an offer of compensation. But the loan issues added complications. If Mr M had never taken out the loans, he could not have been mis-sold the PPI and there was a risk of the compensation offers being withdrawn. This would have been a disaster as the PPI compensation was a financial lifeline. But it did not stop the bank chasing the loan debts.
I decided the best solution was to enter into negotiation with senior management at RBS (owners of Natwest) Head Office in Scotland. I wanted a package that protected the compensation whilst solving the debt issue. And in the end I got it. The bank reluctantly agreed to write off the outstanding loans and we agreed a financial compensation package for the distress and inconvenience caused to Mr M over many years, equivalent to the PPI compensation. And the best bit? The letter the bank sent to Mr M, confirming he no longer owed the bank a penny. After pushing him to the very brink of a breakdown, he was free at last to get on with his life with his new wife. A memorable case and one of my all-time favourite results.