The Alliance of Claims Companies (ACC), a collective group of Claims Management Companies, working together to ensure fair customer outcomes, which was formed to promote best practice and excellent customer service across the claims management sector, has become the latest member of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) Claims Management Regulator’s Consultative Group.

The ACC is the independent, representative body of the financial claims management sector, and was formed to ensure their members provide best practice in financial claims where consumers receive redress after they have been let down or mis-sold by their bank, lender or service provider.

It also aims to ensure that where Claims Management Companies (CMCs) operate they are able to continue to provide high quality, well paid employment opportunities for thousands of people across the United Kingdom.

The ACC is formed on the basis of collective knowledge and expertise of its members, and membership of the Alliance is open to qualifying CMCs, who adhere to the Guiding Principles.

Leading the ACC is its Chief Executive, Simon Evans. Speaking of the organisation he said:

“Our ethos is that regulators should act to protect consumers from bad practice in the financial services industry and promote consumer access to justice. The ACC and our members are therefore passionately committed to better application of the rules of authorisation to ensure that the industry operates in the best interests of the consumer at all times.”

The ACC has 58 CMCs as members (as of 20/09/17), and several more seeking to join. These range from large scale operations with over 600 staff to small micro businesses with less than 10 employees. Members are drawn from England, Scotland and Wales and include CMCs, solicitors’ practices and accountancy firms – all of whom are authorised to undertake financial claims by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) or other relevant body (SRA in the case of solicitors).

These members represent well over 50% of the volume of current financial claims within the industry, and therefore the ACC is truly the representative voice of CMCs dealing with Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) and Packaged Bank Account (PBA) claims. Further to that ACC members are also working on claims in other financial products such as pensions, mortgages and cavity wall insulation. Members are not however drawn from the Personal Injury (PI) sector and nor are members engaging in holiday sickness claims (correct as of 20/09/17).

The ACC has amongst its membership some of the UK's biggest CMCs such as The Claims Guys, We Fight Any Claim, Allay Claims, Brunel Franklin, and The Fair Trade Practice.

It operates under a set of Guiding Principles, which all members must adhere to, which includes the stipulation that members must never charge an up-front fee for claims work, a practice the ACC believes should be banned by the regulator.

Speaking about the formation and evolution of the ACC, Chief Executive Simon Evans commented:

“We decided to establish this trade association way back in late 2015, after announcements by the then Chancellor, George Osborne, amounted to a threat on the claims management industry as a whole. The ACC was formed from within We Fight Any Claim (WFAC) and they allowed me to head up the operation from within for 18 months.

“In April of 2017, I spun out the ACC away from WFAC to become a fully independent and representative body with its own governance structure and which I continue to lead with input from our Executive Committee drawn from across the membership. We have no affiliation with any single CMC and our funding is drawn from across the membership via a fee structure.

“Since September 2015 there have been three major pieces of work that the ACC has been involved with – the Carol Brady Review of Claims Management Companies and now the related Financial Guidance and Claims Bill that is going through the House of Lords, the FCA Consultation in relation to a time bar on PPI claims and the Plevin calculations, and the MoJ Consultation on a proposed fee cap for the industry.

“We are continuing to engage with politicians in respect of the first item and meet with the FCA transition team in the coming weeks to discuss the transfer of regulation away from the MoJ. In respect of the time bar on claims, we did not agree with the proposal, and we do not agree that for consumers this is the right decision. We support the action being taken by our founder member We Fight Any Claim in seeking to have this decision judicially reviewed. In terms of the Fee Cap, we presented a robust and evidence based response to the consultation in respect of why we did not feel the proposals were correct, and we continue to engage with Kevin Rousell and his team at the MoJ in respect of this.

“Our goal is to provide consumers with confidence in financial claims management companies and to allow the greatest number of consumers to have access to justice in financial claims. We operate under shared best practice and have a set of guiding principles that would allow us to remove members if their actions were detrimental to consumers.

“It is vital that CMCs are able to exist to aid consumers in making claims to allow access to justice and to ensure banks and other financial institutions are not allowed to get away with bad behaviour. This is why we exist, to allow good CMCs to help consumers, to aid other CMCs to become good CMCs where possible, and to help regulators identify and remove bad CMCs so that consumers can have confidence in the sector.”