Protection from a consumer’s viewpoint

Sam Caunt

Regarding the front page CMC story (FA, 15 August), one swallow does not make a summer, nor does one sad case based on what we have read justify the claim for a long-stop.

In his review of the Fos, published in April 2008, Lord (David) Hunt stated: “I do not believe, however, that it is possible to specify a ‘long-stop’ date beyond which complaints cannot be considered, because the point at which the customer becomes aware of possible detriment will vary significantly.” And that is the point which I am afraid we will find hard to argue against. We need to look at the consumer’s point of view too.

Interestingly though, Lord Hunt did recommend that Fos should clearly document its general approach in the assessment of evidence in cases relating to sales made more than six years ago to establish greater certainty on the value placed on generic information on company practice and customer recollection. I wonder if this actually happens.

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As for the Limitations Act, which I believe is being referred to, there is also another statutory Act, the FCA’s statutory objective of ensuring the appropriate level of consumer protection if such a clause as a 15-year long-stop excludes or restricts any liability that a firm has to a consumer bringing a claim using Fos or the courts. Comparing our situation with that of other professions does not mean that we should get the same protection.

However, in this case I would perhaps argue that the customer should have been aware of possible detriment long ago and therefore as such should not get the protection that Lord Hunt and the FCA say is required. What is appropriate?

Sam Caunt

Company secretary

Kingston PTM