RegulationMay 16 2013

RBS mis-selling case brought forward after FCA intervention

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ByDonia O’Loughlin

Law firm Clarke Willmott has applauded the decision by the Court of Appeal to bring forward the hearing of the appeal against a verdict in favour of Royal Bank of Scotland over a mis-selling claim brought by two small business owners.

The claimants, Paul Rowley and John Green, claim they were mis-sold an interest rate swap product by RBS in 2005. The High Court found in favour of the bank in December 2012, one month before the Financial Conduct Authority published findings of a review that Clarke Wilmott argues undermine the initial verdict in the case.

The appeal will now be heard over two days between 29 and 31 July 2013. The new date follows a request by the Financial Conduct Authority for an earlier appeal hearing, which the law firm states reflects the regulator’s desire to effect “a quick resolution to this landmark case so that other small businesses are not left in limbo”.

The original claim was dismissed by the court on the grounds that the bank did not provide advice, only information, and that the bank took reasonable steps to ensure their clients understood the risk of incurring significant break costs.

Jon Green, lawyer at Clarke Willmott, said: “The expedited appeal is welcome news for all small to medium sized businesses that have been affected by the mis-selling of interest rate swaps. It gives them renewed hope after many must have lost heart when the first instance decision in the case went in favour of the bank.

“It clearly indicates that the FCA wants a quick resolution to this landmark case so that other small businesses are not left in limbo.

“The result of the appeal will be of great interest to those small companies which have suffered as a result of entering into interest rate swaps and a positive result for Mr Rowley and Mr Green should open the door to potential redress for those who consider they ought not to have been sold a swap.”

Mr Green previously told FTAdviser that, to his knowledge, deals brokered with major banking groups over the mis-selling of interest rate swap products are failing to generate redress for clients as banks are fighting compensation claims in court.

This follows the Financial Services Authority’s pilot review into sales of interest rate hedging products by major banking groups to small businesses which revealed that up to 90 per cent of 173 sales constituted mis-selling.

Following the review, four major high street banks agreed with the regulator to undertake a full review of past sales and to compensate customers.