Monday 19 March 2018

Couple to be repaid €61k they were overcharged for mortgage

Solicitor Liam Fitzgerald of Main Street, Lusk, Co. Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts. Photo: Paddy Cummins/
Solicitor Liam Fitzgerald of Main Street, Lusk, Co. Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts. Photo: Paddy Cummins/

Aodhan O'Faolain and Ray Managh

A couple who brought High Court proceedings against Permanent TSB are to be repaid the full €61,000 they were overcharged by the lender.

Liam Fitzgerald and Angela Wallace who are among the 1,100 customers of Permanent TSB, who a Central Bank investigation found were overcharged, earlier claimed PTSB demanded they must accept its' offer of compensation of just under €6,000 before it would repay the amount the bank overcharged them.

The couple, who always fully complied with their mortgage with PTSB, claimed it was “utterly improper and unlawful” for the bank to place such a condition on the repayment of the monies PTSB admits was due and owing to them.

The couple also claimed they were asked to accept what they believe to be a "derisory compensation offer. "  Last week they launched High Court proceedings seeking various orders against PTSB Plc including an injunction requiring the lender to discharge its admitted liability in the sum of €61,195.13.

They are also seeking damages for alleged breach of contract, unlawful interference with their economic interests, as well as punitive and exemplary damages.

The matter was briefly mentioned before Mr Justice Robert Haughton today. Following talks between the parties the judge was told by Richard Kean SC for the couple the action could be adjourned generally, with liberty to reapply to have the proceedings re-entered if necessary.

Afterwards Mr Liam Fitzgerald, a solicitor based in Lusk Co Dublin, said it had been agreed between the parties that he and his partner are to be repaid the €61,000 PTSB admitted overcharging them.

The couple are seeking damages against the lender as a result of being overcharged. 

A spokesperson for the bank said "The bank's position has always been that customers can accept the redress and compensation immediately and still appeal for more compensation through our appeal panels, or take the matter to the Financial Services Ombudsman or the Courts if they wish."

The couple, from Lusk in Co Dublin, were informed last month they had been overcharged by more than €61,000 by PTSB in respect of their mortgage on their current and previous family homes for a period in excess of six years.

Following the Central Bank's investigation PTSB, the couple alleged, wrote to them and said it would repay them what was overcharged, but only subject to their acceptance of PTSB's offer of compensation of €5798.92. 

In a sworn statement grounding the application Mr Fitzgerald a solicitor of Perrin Way, Lusk Village said it was "utterly reprehensible " PTSB has not unequivocally offered to "immediately" and "without question" repay him and his wife the amount they were overcharged.

There is "no legal basis" for refusing to pay the sums overcharged, he said. He said the condition they accept the offer of compensation offered before the can get back the amount overcharged is "a disgraceful requirement."

He said he and his wife are "extremely and naturally anxious" to receive back the finds which are due to them. The overcharging he said has caused him and family financial pressures in order to meet the mortgage repayments.  

His family had to make sacrifices and he had to "beg and borrow sums of money from family members" to maintain the upkeep of his home, which he says has also been affected by pyrite, and cover the cost of setting up a new business. 

They have no savings, he adds.  None of these difficulties would have been encountered by his family had the couple not being overcharged by the lender, he said.

He said the compensation offer represents a mere 9% of of the money they were deprived of for the time they were overcharged, which works out at 1.5% per annum. At an absolute minimum he says they ought to be compensated at the Courts Act Interest Rate of 8% per annum.

He said that the couple have moved their mortgage to a tracker rate, which they are entitled to.

In its investigation the Central Bank found PTSB failed to inform certain customers of the consequences of their decisions to break early from a fixed rate or discounted tracker period, which saw them lose their contractual right to be offered a tracker rate in the future.

The Central Bank also found PTSB also failed to inform other customers of their right to be offered a tracker rate at the end of any fixed rate period.  Another mortgage provider Springboard was also found by the Central Bank to have overcharged some 220 customer accounts. 

The investigation said the lender's failures were a key factor in the loss of ownership of at least 22 properties.

A permanent TSB spokesman said:

“We welcome the fact that the customers have agreed to accept the original offer made to them by the bank last week.

"We particularly welcome the public clarification that any impacted customers can accept their compensation and redress immediately and still appeal for more compensation through the appeal panels established as part of the Mortgage Redress Programme, or even take the matter to the Financial Services Ombudsman or the Courts if they wish.”

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