Judge rules CMC must pay adviser for false claim

A judge has ordered a claims management company to repay an adviser £340.20 for time spent handling a baseless claim, in a judgement seen by FTAdviser.

Alan Lakey, partner at Highclere Financial Services, took CMC Aims Reclaim to a small claims court when the CMC refused to pay an invoice for the time Mr Lakey spent handling a claim that came to nothing.

A judge at Accrington County Court ordered Aims Reclaim to pay Mr Lakey £340.20, equal to 40 minutes of work at his hourly rate plus expenses associated with attending the hearing.

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According to Mr Lakey, the hearing was attended by Aims’ credit controller, who produced a blank cheque to immediately pay once the judge had handed down her ruling.

Mr Lakey told FTAdviser the judge found claims management firms owe a duty of care to advisers, which Aims Reclaim breached when it sent Mr Lakey a claim on behalf of one of his clients.

Mr Lakey said: “I explained how I’m a qualified financial adviser, I have to pay a fee and pass examinations and follow rules, and as a result I charge clients [an hourly fee].

“They have wasted 40 minutes of my time and I have sent them a bill.”

According to a letter to Mr Lakey from Antony Bolton, principal officer for the Ministry of Justice’s claims management regulation, monitoring and compliance unit, the MoJ is “continuing to monitor their activities”.

According to the MoJ claims management register, Aims Legal must keep recordings of all phone calls for six months, may not take payment from customers before providing a regulated claims management service, and that any business acting on its behalf as an agent, or otherwise providing marketing or other services for it, complies with these conditions.

Mr Lakey said the representative of the CMC asked the judge for a confidentiality clause but was denied.

He said: “Things like this must get to the public domain.”

Mr Lakey added that although County Courts cannot set legal precedent, he “would expect to win in these exact circumstances every single time”.

Aims contacted Mr Lakey demanding he pay compensation to a client, and listing seven reasons the client had been mis-sold, despite Mr Lakey having never sold the client an insurance policy of the type listed.

Mr Lakey responded to the company asking them to cease and desist, after which the company told him it had closed their file for that particular claim.

Aims Reclaim could not provide comment at time of writing.