The OFT is responsible for ensuring that only fit and competent firms can hold a consumer credit licence. Where we have evidence that a firm is unfit or incompetent, or it is not complying with its consumer protection obligations, we can investigate and, if appropriate, impose sanctions.
OFT writes to banks and building societies (4 November 2013)
Following recent failures by some banks to fully discharge their obligations under the Consumer Credit Act, the OFT has asked a number of banks and building societies to confirm that they have accurately and fully provided consumers with information regarding their loan agreements.
As well as formal investigations, we also take targeted action to raise standards across sectors, tackle market-wide problems quickly and gather evidence for potential enforcement action. This includes working with firms and trade association to improve their procedures and practices alongside pre-enforcement action such as warning letters.
We are currently taking pre-enforcement action as part of the payday lending compliance review. Following the publication of our findings in March 2013, we wrote to every payday lender requiring them to take immediate steps to ensure that they are complying with the standards set out in the report. We also announced that we are writing to 50 leading payday firms setting out our specific concerns about their compliance with the law and guidance. We are giving each firm 12 weeks from receipt of our letter to demonstrate they are compliant or they risk formal enforcement action. The compliance review pages contain regular progress updates.
Below is a summary of our open investigations into the behaviour and practices of consumer credit firms. Each case may involve a number of separate consumer credit licences. This includes all open investigations, including those where we have formally notified the firm that we are minded to impose a sanction.
|By licensable activity:|
|By firm type:|
|Debt collection agency/debt purchaser||1|
|Debt management/debt adjustment firm||10|
|Home collected credit||1|
|Secured/bridging loans provider||2|
|Log book loans||1|
*Gateway cases are investigations into firms that have applied for a credit licence, or to renew or amend an existing licence, where the application process has thrown up evidence which suggests that the firm is potentially unfit. More information can be found on our gateway pages.
** Own-initiative cases are investigations into firms which our intelligence suggests are engaged in unfair practices or may be otherwise unfit to hold a licence.
If our investigation finds evidence which we believe indicates a serious problem, we issue the firm with a notice that we are minded to impose a sanction on them - this could be taking away their licence, refusing their application for a licence, varying or limiting the activities they are licensed to carry out, or imposing specific requirements on them. Firms can also offer requirements themselves, rather than have them imposed by the OFT. If a firm breaches a requirement we have already imposed we can fine them up to £50,000 per breach. If we believe that a firm poses a serious and immediate risk to consumers we can suspend its licence with immediate effect.
The table below shows all the cases where we are currently minded to impose requirements on an existing licenceholder or to revoke its licence.
Date of notice
|20/11/12||Lee Patrick Hammond||638976||Revoke licence
|13/09/12||Ansar Ali||631227||Revoke licence|
|29/06/12||Capital Cash Ltd||541223||Revoke licence|
|20/05/11||Roxburghe UK Ltd||533468||Revoke licence|
|20/05/11||HFO Services Ltd||555914||Revoke licence|
|20/05/11||HFO Capital Ltd||614989||Revoke licence|
|16/07/13||Highbridge Investments L.P.||648599||Revocation|
You can find details of our actions to refuse applications for a new licence or to renew an existing licence on the gateway pages. Full details of all firms that hold a licence and any formal action taken against them can be found on the Public Register.
Once we have issued a 'minded to' notice, the firm has the opportunity to make representations to an independent adjudicator who will make a final decision. If the adjudicator upholds our case, we will issue a final decision, known as a 'determination'. Recent determinations include:
'Determinations in cases where the OFT was minded to revoke a licence since May 2011' shows all the cases where we have made a determination in cases where we were minded to revoke a licence in the last two years. Details of determinations in relation to applications for a licence or to renew or vary an existing licence can be found on the gateway pages.
'Credit Enforcement Activity - Requirements' shows all the cases where we have imposed requirements on a firm's licence in the last two years and links to the Requirements Notice and Press Notice which explain what the requirements are.
Some cases go no further than the 'minded to' stage because the firm in question withdraws its application for a licence or surrenders the licence without challenging the 'minded to' notice. 'Minded to' notices not contested since May 2011' shows revocation and requirements cases in the last two years where this occurred.
An amendment to the Consumer Credit Act 1974 came into effect on 19 February 2013 and gave the OFT the power to suspend a consumer credit licence where it appears urgently necessary to do so for the protection of consumers.
Firms can appeal against our determinations to the First Tier Tribunal. In 2011-12, 21 appeals were made against OFT determinations, including both gateway and own-initiative enforcement cases, and nine were brought forward from earlier years. Fifteen appeals were dismissed, struck out or withdrawn. No appeals were upheld. Fifteen appeals were still pending at 31 March. The table below provides a list of all the appeals made against OFT determinations in the last two years.
Recent appeal decisions include:
This page was last updated on 26/11/2013.
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