High Court case on agreement documentation and default notices
In Blackshaw v MFS Portfolio Ltd  EWHC 3708 (Ch) the High Court considered whether permission to appeal should be allowed against a refusal to annul a bankruptcy order on two principal grounds:
- The necessary formalities for the entry into the regulated consumer credit agreement (which related to the debt in issue) were not complied with;
- The default notice served in respect of that credit agreement was defective.
The First Ground
The Appellant argued that she did not receive the terms and conditions when she entered into the credit agreement and, accordingly, section 61 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (“CCA”) had not been complied with and the agreement could not be enforced. The agreement had been entered in 1995 and, whilst it had provided a microfiche copy of the front page of the application, the Respondent had been unable to provide a copy of the terms.
Despite the terms not being produced, the District Judge had found that, in the circumstances, it was very likely that such terms existed and would have been provided to the Appellant when she entered into the Agreement. Mr Justice Mann held that this was a finding that the District Judge was entitled to make. Further, Mr Justice Mann found that it was implicit from the District Judge’s findings that she considered that the terms and conditions not only existed but had been subscribed to by the Appellant’s signature and, consequently, the requirements of section 61 CCA were fulfilled. Mr Justice Mann held that this was also a justifiable finding which should not be interfered with on appeal.
The Second Ground
The Appellant also argued that the default notice upon which the Respondent relied did not comply with the Consumer Credit (Enforcement, Default and Termination Notice) Regulations 1989 because it stated the full balance of the account rather than the total of the missed payments. The Respondent argued that, as a result of the missed payments, it was contractually entitled to the entire balance subject to the service of the appropriate notice, a requirement which was fulfilled by the default notice itself and, consequently, the sum required to remedy the breach was the entire amount. Mr Justice Mann agreed with the Respondent and the District Judge, holding that:
“If by the time the default notice is served circumstances have arisen which entitle the lender to recover not merely sums which might be regarded as arrears, by which I assume is meant accumulated minimum payments, but also the whole of the sum, then they are entitled to claim that sum, and the sum to require to remedy the breach for non-payment of that sum is the payment of the whole sum due. The bank is not confined, at that stage, to claiming merely the amount of arrears if it has an accrued contractual right to have the whole of the sum.”
Given the forgoing, Mr Justice Mann refused permission to appeal.
The transcript can be read here: Blackshaw v MFS Portfolio