As many of our members and the guests who joined us last Friday will know, we had a very successful Seminar on the subject of 'Fraud And Access To Justice'. It was very well attended (over 100 people) and we had some excellent speakers. Those members who couldn't attend will be happy to know the whole seminar was professionally filmed courtesy of one of our founder members Chris Mouser – who we never see because he's based abroad but who has been one of our staunches supporters from the word go. So thanks Chris and also to Michael Kelly who did the filming.
Because it was filmed, we didn't take many notes and we hope to get the video up in the near future. However, one of the over riding messages that came across from our speakers was – it costs a lot of money to take a civil action against a bank. That and the fact that third party funders who can help cover these costs are predominantly looking at the bigger cases (£10M+) is a harsh reality of where our justice system is at the moment. We have to find valid alternatives – which is what SME Alliance is dedicated to doing with FOS+ and other solutions. But I think we all took heart from the clear talking of the various speakers who clearly recognise the damage bank fraud or misconduct has caused the SME sector and who are aware how much we need the legal profession to help us address this situation. Competent professionals are out there and members of SME Alliance are perhaps better placed than many to follow their advice and consider group litigation (class actions) as a valid way forward.
I have said 'fraud' but one thing I learnt on Friday is we're better off using the term 'reckless'. I'll leave it to the video to explain that in more detail but it was, I think, a small gem of information from one of the speakers!
Many thanks to: Anthony Maton (Hausfeld), Abhishek Sachdev (Vendanta Hedging and also an adviser/member of SME Alliance), Michael Lent (Annecto Legal), Karen Edwards (Menzies Forensic Services), Francis Coulson and Simon Duncan (Moonbeaver) and Simon Stafford-Michaels (1 Pump Court).
Thanks also to Jon Welsby for organising this event and James Glanville and others for their help. I'll stop thanking people now before this gets like an awards ceremony! But it was a brilliant event and not least because of all the new faces there and new friends SME Alliance made.
One last point – unfortunately I got to the event very late due to a terrible accident on the M11 which closed the motorway for a couple of hours. So Sophie, Laura and I weren't there in time to do the registration and collect the £10 from those paying on the day. I know this caused some confusion and some people simply couldn't find anyone to accept their money!! We did manage to accept some money at the end of the seminar but it was a bit chaotic and I think some people just gave up. We're very sorry for an inconvenience and if anyone would like to pay in retrospect or, if any of the people who mentioned sponsoring us would like to follow up on this, please e-mail us on email@example.com and we'll send payment details.
A newsletter will be going to all members by the end of the week with other news and updates on our collaboration with BIS, FCA, NEF and the huge progress we're making on FOS+.
Finally, an incredibly good piece of news – one of our members was due to be evicted at 12.00pm today. Of all the eviction cases we've seen over the last few years and even although this one was blatantly wrong, it really was touch and go. Anyway, some of the SME Alliance adviser team has been helping and I've had my fingers crossed all day that an emergency court hearing would produce a just and positive result. I had a call at about 4.00pm today to say the eviction has been suspended! Yehhhhh!! It's small victories like this that make me so glad we formed SME Alliance! I would also add that, yet again, the conduct of Lloyds Banking Group has been very, very disappointing. Not to mention the ongoing and appalling conduct of some LPA Receivers – this needs serious attention.