Client pledges double-digit funds to sue West Brom

Tony Wilson, a partner for London-based Ashley Wilson Solicitors LLP, made the second largest contribution so far to Property 118, the action group battling the tracker rate rise on behalf of hundreds of buy-to-let borrowers in court this Spring.

In an email newsletter sent by Property 118, Mr Wilson, who is a solicitor in his own right, said he was “appalled” at the way that West Bromwich has sought to justify its “unilateral” action.

He added: “This is not the first time over the past five years when I have been subjected to unilateral action taken by a financial institution, despite the terms of a written agreement, on the artificial basis that it cannot afford it.”

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West Bromwich Building Society has long maintained that its terms and conditions permit the rate hike and that the decision only affects commercial buy-to-let borrowers with multiple properties, none of which is their primary residence.

Mark Alexander, founder of Property 118, said he expected more disgruntled borrowers to come forward by the end of the month and “blast” the legal campaign’s latest funding target of £250,000, set aside for covering West Bromwich’s legal costs.

He said that major contributions from a barrister, an accountant and a solicitor, all of whom have remained anonymous, have provided an additional £23,116 for the legal kitty.

Mr Alexander previously claimed that the costly legal showdown has been triggered by West Bromwich’s refusal to settle the case through arbitration, but the mutual countered that the Financial Ombudsman Service “already fulfils this role” and is free for complainants to use.

However, Fos is still deliberating over 400 consumer complaints filed in the past 10 months, saying that the unprecedented nature of the case would require a “new approach” to ascertain whether the bank’s terms were unfair.

Justin Selig, founder of London-based The Law Department, had previously been looking into the case, but is no longer playing a part in the West Bromwich campaign.

He said: “A large number of our clients have decided to pursue alternative action together with Property118, so I do not think we will be going down this same route. We are, however, continuing to pursue a case against Bank of Ireland.”

The counsel that has been instructed by Property 118 to bring the claim against West Bromwich is Cheltenham-based Cotswold Barristers.