Friday 4 May 2012
A CHAMPION has emerged to defend small businesses from bullying behaviour by banks in the shape of a private investor-backed legal support fund called Restitution.
It has been created to "assist the growing numbers of aggrieved business owners who wish to take legal action against banks and other financial institutions", and its board will screen winnable cases with the help of a senior QC.
Restitution has been set up as an independent entity by Edinburgh-based law firm MBM Commercial, which was praised for its "courage" in taking on the big banks in a legal awards commendation last year.
Two years ago The Herald reported how the firm had won a key judgment in the Court of Session against the Royal Bank of Scotland on the issue of lending promises.
MBM says Restitution is backed by "two high net worth private investors". Initially, potential cases will be submitted to the fund by MBM, which has "a substantial number of claimants keen to be considered for funding". But the firm "also anticipates receiving referral business from other law firms who carry out work for banks and whose involvement in suing one of their number might lead to a conflict of interest".
Cat MacLean, a partner and head of dispute resolution at MBM Commercial, said: "This is an exciting and innovative commercial project which also offers hope to business owners who believe they have been badly let down by their commercial lenders.
"This sense of grievance has accelerated sharply since 2008 when the banks abruptly reversed their previous liberal lending policies and began calling in loans or refusing to complete loan applications that had already been agreed in principle." She added: "This is a huge problem across business and industry.
"Even some companies that traded profitably had loans and mortgages called in because the banks took a policy decision to retreat from property-based lending.
"We anticipate a significant number of similar complaints that have yet to surface."