The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined Professional Personal Claims Limited (PPC) £70,000 for misleading consumers through its websites and printed materials.
This decision follows the transfer of regulatory responsibility for claims management companies (CMCs) to the FCA on 1 April 2019.
PPC’s websites and printed materials prominently used the logos of five major banks which was liable to mislead consumers into believing they were submitting redress claims for mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) directly to their banks, rather than engaging PPC as a CMC to pursue claims on their behalf in return for payment of a success fee.
PPC also failed to present accurate, fully formed, detailed and specific complaints to banks. It had submitted Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) questionnaires to banks on behalf of different consumers. The questionnaires in part contained identical factual allegations where evidence specific to each client should have been presented.
Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA said:
“CMCs have an important role to play in helping to secure compensation for their customers. This is especially true in the case of those consumers who might not otherwise make a claim.
“PPC’s misleading website and marketing material suggested PPC was associated with the five banks when this was not the case. Claims management firms must ensure their advertising is accurate. Not only in terms of what they say about themselves and their services but also in terms of what is represented.”
PPC was originally investigated and fined by the previous regulator for CMCs, the Claims Management Regulator (CMR), under the CMR’s prior regulatory framework applicable before 1 April 2019. PPC’s business focused on claims for redress for mis-sold PPI.
The CMR launched an investigation following a number of complaints between October 2015 and March 2017 from clients of PPC and financial firms.
On 5 December 2018, the CMR determined that PPC had breached the previous CMC conduct rules by using websites and marketing materials that were misleading and by submitting misleading material to financial firms in support of its clients’ PPI redress claims. The CMR imposed a £70,000 fine for these failings.
PPC appealed on 21 December 2018 to the First-tier Tribunal against the CMR’s penalty notice. While the appeal was pending, the FCA took over regulation of CMCs from the CMR. The FCA therefore replaced the CMR as the respondent to PPC’s pending appeal.
On 16 September 2019, after reviewing the evidence put forward by the FCA, PPC withdrew its appeal, and the FCA therefore imposed the £70,000 fine on PPC for the failings identified in the CMR’s penalty notice.