Win for Rob Weir KC and Jonathan Butters in PPI case in Supreme Court

In Smith & Anr v Royal Bank of Scotland PLC [2023] UKSC 34, each claimant had brought a claim against RBS under sections 140A-C of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, seeking repayment of payments made in respect of payment protection insurance policies linked to their credit card agreements. RBS had received very large undisclosed commissions and the claimants alleged their relationship with the bank was thereby unfair, relying on the principles established by the Supreme Court in Plevin v Paragon Personal Finance Limited [2014] 1 WLR 4222. The claims were brought more than 10 years after the PPI policies had been cancelled and the last payment in relation to them made, but less than 6 years (the relevant limitation period) after the credit agreements had ended. RBS argued that the claims were time barred. The claims succeeded below and on first appeal. The Court of Appeal, however, allowed the bank’s appeal holding that time ran from the date of the last PPI payments. The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the claimants’ appeal. Giving the lead judgment, Lord Leggatt held that by the terms of section 140A the court is required to assess whether the relationship “is” unfair, taking into account all relevant factors across the whole relationship (c.f. Scotland v British Credit Trust Ltd [2014] Bus LR 1079), which means the time at which fairness must be assessed is the date of trial or the date when the relationship ended. The cause of action cannot have accrued until any earlier. The relationships having ended less than 6 years before proceedings were brought, the claims were in time.

As for whether a PPI claimant who is time-barred under primary limitation can rely on a lender’s deliberate concealment of the commission further to section 32 of the Limitation Act 1980 so as to extend time, the Supreme Court’s judgment in Canada Square Operations Limited v Potter is awaited.

The Supreme Court also dismissed RBS’s argument that the claimants had no cause of action under sections 140A-C by application of the relevant transitional provisions.

Robert Weir KC and Jonathan Butters represented the successful claimants, instructed by Steven McGarry, Jodie Hudson and David Goldstein of Cheval Legal Limited.

To read a full copy of the judgment, please click here.

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