On 17 December 2019, the FCA published a Final Notice fining Professional Personal Claims Limited (PPC) GBP70,000 for failures relating to PPI complaints. The decision follows the transfer of regulatory responsibility for claims management companies (CMCs) to the FCA.
The Claims Management Regulation Unit of the Ministry of Justice (CMRU) found PPC to be in breach of certain rules under the Conduct of Authorised Persons Rules 2014 (CAPR). PPC appealed the CMRU’s decision and while the appeal was pending, the FCA took over regulation of CMCs from the CMRU and replaced the CMRU as respondent to the appeal. PPC withdrew its appeal after reviewing the evidence put forward by the FCA.
PPC was found to have been misleading consumers into thinking that they were complaining directly to the banks and did not realise that they had in fact engaged PPC to pursue redress claims on their behalf in return for payment of a fee. PPC operated websites with domain names which included the name of banks, replicated the colour schemes used by the relevant banks and included their logos. Further, the claim forms sent to consumers who had registered on the PPC websites did not prominently identify PPC as the sender, but prominently displayed the name of banks.
PPC was also found to have breached General Rule 2 which required a CMC to act with professional diligence and make representations to a third party that substantiate and evidence the basis of the claim, are specific to each claim and are not fraudulent, false or misleading (this is broadly similar to FCA guidance in CMCOB 2.1.8 G). The CMRU concluded that PPC had failed to present accurate, fully formed, detailed and specific complaints to banks on the basis that:
- The FOS Questionnaires submitted to banks contained very similar or identical factual allegations for different clients, particularly in the section under the headings “this page is for you to tell us what happened” and “finally, tell us why you are now unhappy with the insurance”.
- The CMRU found no evidence within PPC’s client files to indicate that clients agreed with all the text that PPC had inserted into the FOS Questionnaires which PPC submitted to banks on their behalf.
The final notice can be found here: https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/final-notices/professional-personal-claims-limited-2019.pdf