Ulster Appeal Upheld by Lower Panel

SaySomething

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562
@Brendan Burgess had asked me to separate this out from another thread as it might prove useful to others.

History:
  • 2003 Drew down on mortgage on family home with tracker rate 'for the life of the loan'.
  • 2007 Fixed tracker mortgage for 3 years.
  • 2009 Financial difficulties meant we entered into first MARP (mortgage arrears resolution process) arrangement. At that time there were no arrears but we were classed as pre arrears customers.
  • 2010 Fixed rate expired and due to refusal to return us to tracker rate, and financial uncertainty we elected to fix again for a further 5 years.
  • 2010-2015 A number of MARP arrangements were entered into. Arrears began to mount on the account as we were underpaying the interest due. Simplest way to explain is that the capital due began to increase rather than decrease.
  • 2015 Fixed rate expired and we rolled onto prevailing variable rate.
  • 2015 I formally wrote to Ulster Bank to request our return to our tracker rate as we were entitled to it citing the Central Bank Tracker Examination.
  • A lot of correspondence followed, including a DAR (data access request) where I acquired our original documents which verified my suspicions.
  • Christmas 2016 We were returned to our tracker rate (no redress or compensation). However, due to the MARP arrangements the capital due on the mortgage was incorrect. We knew this, the bank knew (and acknowledged) this; the amount owed every month was a figure far higher than what we should have been paying. The correspondence continued.
  • Christmas 2017 We received redress, our capital figure was adjusted, our monthly figure due was over 30% less than what it had been when we were on the variable rate.
Compensation Originally Awarded: As we had been in/out of several MARP arrangements we had not been overcharged by much on our account. Therefore, our compensation figure automatically awarded by Ulster Bank was lower than the minimum of €1,500 set by the Central Bank but we received this minimum figure. We were very unhappy about this and entered into negotiations directly with the TME (tracker mortgage examination) Team. We corresponded extensively and met on a number of occasions. Overall we found this to be very frustrating and tied up nearly 6 months after the redress/compensation was issued. Ultimately we got a final response from the bank which didn't change things. We feel now that this was a fact-finding mission by the TME Team to sound our complaints/arguments and build their case before we decided to go to either the Independent Appeals Panel/FSPO or both.

Appeals Panel:
We appealed our level of compensation to the Independent Secretariat in early June 2018, this was automatically assigned to the lower panel. About 4 months into the process we discovered the the panel would only have access to information the bank deemed relevant to them. This meant that they did not have access to our file. We felt it was very important in the context of the number of MARP arrangements we entered into and other issues that were personal to us. In all, it took the bank about 5 months to release our file to the panel. The panel seemed to have little powers to compel the bank to release the information we requested.

We had requested an oral hearing and this was granted. We found the Oral Hearing to be a negative experience. In fact, overall we found the entire appeals panel experience to be negative. We found it to be convoluted and combative. BDO are the Secretariat; the panel do not deal with appellants directly, unless you end up in an Oral Hearing. The language used is legalistic and the entire is couched against people trying to attempt this on their own. Even now writing about it I feel the stress building up inside of me. I am aware that I am not alone in this sentiment and have heard from a number of other appellants who have found it equally dreadful.

Appeal Upheld:
We recently received a letter from the panel to say that our appeal had been upheld and that they had awarded us a higher compensation figure than we had originally received. However, many of our issues which we raised as part of the appeals process they deem not to be in their scope.

Our options now are:

A: Accept the higher award, sign the documents and draw a conclusion to this mess despite the fact that it overlooks many issues we have raised. It's not the case that the issues are invalid, it's just that they are not within the scope of the appeals panel process.
OR
B: Move on to the FSPO process and extend things by likely another 18 months or so while we go through everything again. This takes the risk of being awarded a lower sum of additional compensation than the appeals panel have awarded us BUT crucially we can be sure that the FSPO will take a look at our entire complaint and not within the tight scope of the appeals process.

Please note: I am not an expert. I have been very vocal on the entire tracker mortgage examination issue. Perhaps this might prove helpful to others in the process. The appeal panel process took us approximately 14 months to conclude. It has now been about 20 months since we received redress and compensation from the bank and 32 months since we were returned to our tracker rate.
 

Hairymilo

Registered User
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2010 Fixed rate expired and due to refusal to return us to tracker rate, and financial uncertainty we elected to fix again for a further 5 years.
Well done SS. Congrats on your perseverance to date.

Did you appeal on the grounds of being denied your Tracker in 2010 and receive Redress & Compensation for this time period? Or did you only appeal 'the Compensation element from 2015 when you wrote to Bank? Bit unclear? Going through a similar appeal Thanks.
 

SaySomething

Frequent Poster
Messages
562
@Hairymilo we received redress and compensation from the date that we were first refused our tracker in 2010. We appealed the level of compensation received. I hope this helps.
 
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