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Compliance and Discipline Panel Meeting – 6 October 2011

October 21, 2011 Comments Off on Compliance and Discipline Panel Meeting – 6 October 2011

The Compliance and Discipline Panel met on 6 October 2011, under the Chairmanship of Sir Harry Ognall, to consider complaints regarding misleading statements, as set out in the notice below.

  1. A written undertaking to be given by Member X not to advertise, market or otherwise promote whether by bidding on line or in any other media form words that may be misleading to a consumer by conveying that Member X is a free-to-client organization. In particular and without derogation from any of the foregoing, not to use any of the following words or phrases:
    • Citizens Advice
    • Citizens Debt Advice
    • CCCS
    • Government Debt Help

    or any combination of the above.

  2. A warning that any further violation of the DEMSA Code of Conduct in these respects will place the company at serious risk either of suspension or of expulsion from DEMSA.
  3. A fine in the sum of £15,000 (Fifteen thousand pounds)
  4. A direction that the effect of the decision and the sanctions imposed be reported to the OFT
  5. An order that Member X pay the costs of the Panel hearing, not exceeding the sum of £5,000.



The Debt Managers Standards Association (DEMSA) today announces a new agreement in principle which will see the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW) undertaking the monitoring of new and existing DEMSA members.

As part of the agreement, ICAEW will carry out initial assessment reviews and ongoing annual reviews to confirm prospective and existing members of DEMSA are adhering to and are compliant with the DEMSA Code of Conduct.

The Code of Conduct, which is approved by the OFT, sets guidelines for DEMSA members in areas such as compliance, customer service, marketing and communications, training and complaints handling. Members are expected to provide services of the highest standards in which the public and the credit industry can have confidence, and to provide a high level of protection to the consumer.

DEMSA has long been committed to raising standards across the fee charging debt advice sector. As well as working closely with the OFT to lead the drive towards higher standards, DEMSA recently introduced a more robust complaints mechanism for clients by appointing ex High Court judge, The Hon Sir Harry Ognall, DL to chair its Disciplinary Panel. DEMSA has also worked with the Institute of Money Advisers (IMA) on a new professional qualification in debt advice for advisers working in member firms.

Michael Land, Chairman of DEMSA commented: “All our new and existing members are already subject to a rigorous audit process however, we believe that by appointing the premier accountancy body in the UK we are further increasing consumer and industry trust in our members. As the principal trade body in the sector, DEMSA members are at all times required to provide informed, clear and appropriate advice and to manage their client affairs with which they are entrusted to the highest standards.”

David Blocksidge, Deputy Director in the OFT’s Consumer Credit Group said: “DEMSA has an OFT approved Code of Practice for its members to abide by and we welcome DEMSA’s approach to work with the ICAEW to help improve and maintain standards in the fee charging debt management sector.”
Vernon Soare, Executive Director, Professional Standards at ICAEW said: “ICAEW is widely recognised for its monitoring expertise across a number of important sectors. We are already actively involved in the personal debt solutions sector through our existing monitoring of our own members, a number of whom are also members of DEMSA. We are pleased to be working with DEMSA to support its strategy of ensuring its members operate to the highest standards.”