Society's latest accredited specialism

The Society has recently extended its specialist accreditation scheme to include the new accredited specialism of  Debt & Asset Recovery.

Debt recovery and, in particular, consumer debt recovery, is becoming an increasingly regulated and complex area of practice. In addition to the relevant law, practitioners must ensure that they are up to speed with guidance that has been issued by regulators such as the Office of Fair Trading and the Information Commissioner, and relevant voluntary codes of practice such as the Lending Code. The Office of Fair Trading’s Irresponsible Lending Guidance for Creditors, which includes default and arrears management, was updated earlier this year and the OFT’s Debt Collection Guidance is also being updated with the new version being issued probably within the next eight weeks. The introduction of the Home Owner and Debtor Protection (Scotland) Act 2010 last year and the impact of the Royal Bank of Scotland v Wilson case have both caused significant changes to the law and procedure in relation to heritable repossessions. It is an evolving area of practice and in view of the current state of the UK economy an area of practice that might be anticipated to grow.

The Society takes the view that the new accredited specialism in debt and asset recovery will offer clients the opportunity to choose a solicitor with the necessary expertise in more complex cases. In addition, solicitors practising in the consumer debt collection sector do so under the group consumer credit licence held by the Society as controller of the group licence. The Office of Fair Trading regards debt collection as an activity where there is a bigger risk of consumer detriment. It is important that solicitors practising in this area can demonstrate their fitness and competency to do so and it is also important that the Society, as controller, can demonstrate that it effectively monitors the conduct and fitness of members practising under the group licence. The Society anticipates that the new specialism will assist in promoting good practice and high standards on the part of those lawyers involved in this area of the law.

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