When consumers bought from ‘Azure Resorts Ltd they may not have been aware the company is homed in Omar Hodge Building, Wickham Cay, Road Town, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands which is a far cry from either Malta or the regulatory governance of the E.U.
When buying Azure’s timeshare, many either acquired membership in the ‘Island Residency Club’ or the ‘Heavenly Collection’ and when sold, Azures (on many occasions) supported those sales by way of Finance supplied by either Barclays Partner Finance of Vacation Financial Ltd. The sale of the finances is regulated business and both finance companies did use Azures as their agent and when selling the finance product. When selling Finance, the seller is required to regulated and this case they were not thus, contravened the regulations.
TESS like others, have observed reports in the media and considered the findings of the UK Upper tribunal in London last year. They ruled that the sales of finance in these cases are contrary to the financial conduct regulations [FCA] thus compensation is available should the consumer prove detriment followed the mis-selling event.
There is a huge difference between alleging detriment and proving it to the satisfaction of the courts so, over the last few mounts TESS has been carrying out extensive research into the possible lines of enquiry to determination (with the aid of leading London firm of solicitors) if detriment can be proven. This week we canvassed the assistance of Mr Trafford QC who like ourselves and the Solicitor we engaged with agreed all is not well, the case has good prospects and the lead claimant TESS chose is an ideal candidate to head TESS’s new similar fact evidence claim.
During the conference, evidence was supplied, discussed and with the clients who TESS explained that they would be putting themselves in front of harm’s way. In order to drive a case into the high court and on account of them seeking over £315,000 in damages and for the detriment suffered adverse cost insurance cover is required.
The case is supported by a well-versed legal team and will be delivered on a ‘No win No fee’. The necessary funding applications in respect to the claims TESS all ready has, have all been successful and adverse cost cover is now being obtained to provide protection to all consumers in the event the case fails.
To date we know there are over 1,440 consumers effected and TESS acknowledges to get to this stage we were required to perform the needy research and with the assistance of many other law firms in Malta and in the UK.
There appears there is no end in sight to the many scandals which surround the sale of timeshares, as a train of discoveries, judgements and convictions simply – keep rolling in. From the UK to Malta and Spain to the USA the pressure that some resorts are now suffering is potentially catastrophic. In some cases, the many bad resorts are doing penance for the crimes perpetrated and are presently operating (in some cases) avoidance tactics in an effort to move assets away from consumer creditors.
In this case, the fundamental issues are: –
the timeshare and finance seller ‘Azure Services Limited’ was not an FCA authorised broker, therefore, when selling the finance Azures were in breach of the general prohibition in section 19 of Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 [FSMA] when loans were brokered.
The total amount of the loans unlawfully brokered have been assessed and amounted to £47 million. This figure does not account for the interest that was charged on the loans, which when factored in -the principle sums to be claimed is expected to be £80 million.
When a consumer bought a loan, Azure was also required to perform ‘due diligence’ on the matter of whether or not the consumer could afford to pay back the loan and with the interest applied. In many cases, this was avoided and the loans were granted irrespective of a consumer’s ability to repay.
Moreover, when the timeshares were sold, it was an express representation that what was sold, was ‘property’ and that ‘property’ was transferred by Property and Leisure Services Limited to Golden Sands Property Limited and the property in that company would be held on trust for the members in each club. In many cases and despite a requirement to provide the trust certification this appeared to have been avoided so, the consumer does not have the full documentation to underpin the investment made or supporting title deeds concerning the property inventory promised.
Azures were also selling Barclays Partner Finance credit cards and charging those credit cards with (in one case) £24,500 worth of debt. In this case, the interest was a staggering 16% and notification of the debt only became known to the consumer a month after charges were applied.
Then there a further issue of secret and undeclared profit in that Azures were selling finance, receiving a commission and then failed to disclose that commission in the sales documents to the consumer.
The matter has now been presented to Senior counsel who confirms the claims have good prospects of success. This will be put into writing and served with other documents which will aid in the delivery of ‘after the event insurance cover’.
To date, TESS has won over £6 million in damages in the UK and Spain and to date have received and paid out over 1.9 million in damages.
Posted on: 10th October 2019