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DEMSA appoints retired High Court judge as Chairman of Compliance and Discipline panel

Posted on August 18, 2011

The Debt Managers Standards Association (DEMSA) has appointed The Hon Sir Harry Ognall, DL as Chairman of its Compliance and Discipline panel.  Sir Harry is a retired High Court Judge. Before his appointment to the Queens Bench division of the Court, his practice involved a wide variety of criminal and civil cases, including corporate fraud. He has also previously acted as an arbitrator in the motor insurance industry.

Sir Harry will join Richard Wharton, Director & General Secretary of DEMSA and Caroline Siarkiewicz, Executive Director of the Institute of Money Advisers on DEMSA’s Compliance and Discipline panel, as well as Patricia Harter of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service and Michael Fox, a Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire.

The OFT is consulting on revised guidance for the debt management industry in order to ensure stricter compliance in the sector. DEMSA has also embarked on a revision of its own Code of Conduct in order to give every assurance to consumers of the high level of service they can expect. This revision will include changes to the disciplinary structure governing the conduct of its members.

DEMSA’s Compliance and Discipline panel meets to consider a complaint about one of the members from either creditors or clients, which has not otherwise been resolved in a complete and satisfactory manner. The panel is empowered to award redress, and to impose a variety of stringent sanctions such as fines, restitution and requiring changes in operational practices. The panel may also report complaints to regulators who would review suitability for holding a Consumer Credit or other license. In his new role, Sir Harry will lead the process of revising the DEMSA Code’s disciplinary provisions involving the panel and will monitor the application of these provisions so as to ensure their ongoing fairness and efficacy.

Commenting on his role, Sir Harry said: “I believe that the panel will prove to be of real advantage, not only to the present and future members of DEMSA but also to creditors and, crucially, the consumer. It will instil further confidence amongst clients and creditors that there are proper measures of redress open to them in the event of dissatisfaction.”

Michael Land, chairman of DEMSA, said: “We work closely with the OFT to help set and promote high standards in the industry and we hope that the revisions to both the OFT Guidance and the DEMSA Code will ensure these standards continue to rise. We are grateful to Sir Harry who accepted this role only after careful consideration and discussions with the OFT, who are themselves supportive of this move to strengthen the compliance procedure. His great legal experience will help DEMSA’s members continue to provide the best possible service to their clients.”