In the UK, you have various consumer rights that are protected under the law, including rights that relate to debt and how you should expect to be treated by lenders. If you suspect that you have been treated unfairly by lenders, it’s important that you take action to protect your rights.
However, knowing exactly what the law says and what rights you have can be difficult. Even when you understand what your rights are, knowing how to assert them is not always straightforward. The legislation surrounding debt is incredibly complex, and it’s not always easy to understand what creditors are and are not allowed to do, as well as the steps you can take to defend yourself. When it comes to debt, you shouldn’t give any money to companies seeking payment unless you’re sure that they can prove you owe what they claim you owe. Creditors may not have followed the law when lending to you, or they may not be able to justify the amounts they say they are owed.
At Galahad & Co., we have an in-depth understanding of consumer protection legislation, rules and guidance and are here to provide you with the specialist legal advice you need to protect your interests.
Your protections under UK law
Consumer credit in the UK is regulated by a number of pieces of legislation, including the Consumer Credit Act (CCA) and more recently the rules of the Financial Conduct Authority, which has the effect of secondary legislation. The CCA is a parliamentary Act which is designed to protect consumers. It covers most areas of consumer lending, including personal loans, credit cards, store cards, payday loans, catalogues, guarantor loans, peer-to-peer lending, store finance and ‘buy now, pay later’ agreements, and some secured loans.
The Consumer Credit Act sets out what lenders must do when they offer credit to borrowers, and how they must collect it. It also governs the ways in which companies must deal with disputes raised by consumers. In addition, the Act establishes statutory rights for consumers when they borrow money. For example, it details your right to a cooling off period when you enter into a credit agreement, and it spells out your cancellation rights.
Certain rights are also set by case law, which is what has happened in previous legislation on the same issue. Case law is often used to interpret the law and has the effect of setting out how legislation applies in practice. For example, where a lender has not complied with certain duties which are prescribed by the CCA, the borrower has a statutory right not to pay. We can help you exercise and defend that right.
Debts you’re not responsible for
If you’re legally responsible for a debt, this is referred to as ‘being liable’ for it and it means you have a duty to pay the money back. You can only be liable for a debt if this is enforceable in court.
There are certain circumstances when you would not be liable for a debt, and in these situations, you should be able to challenge the lender if they are seeking payment. For example, for some debts, creditors have a limited period of time in which to chase repayment. If this time elapses, the debts are referred to as statute barred and creditors may not be able to chase you for repayment. The rules regarding statute barred debt are set out in the Limitation Act 1980. Under the terms of this Act, creditors have up to six years to pursue most types of unsecured debts. This time is called a ‘limitation period’ and it starts at the time of your last acknowledgement of the debt or your last payment.
The debt is also unenforceable if the creditor is not able to provide, on demand, a copy of your original agreement, proof that default notices have been sent, evidence that the debt has been bought (or assigned), notices of sums in arrears, or a statement of the account in a prescribed form.
There are other instances in which you may not be liable for money borrowed. If there was a problem when you signed a credit agreement, for instance, the debt may not be enforceable. The same applies if you were pressured into signing an agreement, the details of the arrangement weren’t made clear or the lender did not carry out checks to ensure you could afford the borrowing. Another example is if you are an authorised additional cardholder on your spouse’s or someone else’s credit card. In these cases, lenders can’t ask you to repay any debts on the card. The main cardholder is always liable for these debts.
How the team at Galahad & Co. can help
Because debt legislation is an expansive, complex area of law, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed as a consumer if you’re trying to understand it and get to grips with your rights. While there is advice available to those facing debt problems on social media platforms and in user forums online, unfortunately much of this information is inaccurate or misleading. Relying on it can result in a dispute with a creditor that ends up in the courts. Without expert legal help, the unfortunate truth is that it is difficult to access justice and consumers are unlikely to succeed in these cases.
This is where the team at Galahad & Co. comes in. Our experts are highly experienced in cases involving debt legislation and we are here to provide you with representation and protect your consumer rights. We ask creditors to prove that the money they are seeking is in fact due. Often they aren’t able to do this. As a result, we have saved our clients a combined total of more than £3 million.