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Allied Irish Bank will do anything to remortgage your house

Our correspondent writes ...

We bought our house around August/September 1995 for 89,000. We paid 20,000 deposit and the rest we borrowed from the Alliance and Leicester Building Society.

Twelve months later my ex-husband went into partnership with his friend and opened a bar/club/theatre in Liverpool city centre. As far as I was aware, everything seemed to be going well. Apart from social visits to the venue, I had no involvement whatsoever with the business.

In April 1997 I was diagnosed with late stages of cervical cancer. While waiting for my radiotherapy treatments, I separated from my husband - around June/July 1997. Then I became aware the my husband's business had collapsed. My daily life carried on as normal and I had very little contact with my husband except when he called to pick up my two daughters.

A few months later, I was a little surprised to find my husband's business had re-opened. I knew he had lost all his savings in this business venture but as we were separated this was of little interest to me. But half way through 1998 I started to become ill again. My time was taken up with hospital visits and admissions.

On returning home from hospital one day, I was served with papers telling me that my home was to be repossessed. I was shocked and confused by the reasons given. I had been in arrears with my mortgage repayments, but I had recently borrowed the money from my mum to pay them off.

I am a deaf lady who lip reads. Although I manage fine face to face, I can't use the telephone which was really frustrating at that moment. But if I'm stressed, I do tend to lose concentration and find it difficult to hear properly. I had not understood one thing the man who served the papers had said to me though I did find out later that letters had previously been sent to my address with regards to this matter but my husband had asked for all mail to be redirected to him due to my ill health. I think this in itself had caused many problems because my husband had not attended any of the earlier Court hearings. But, until the bailiff's visit, I was unaware of any letters or Court hearings.

My husband then made an appointment with a solicitor, Mr Roy Phybus, who visited me at home and took a statement from me. I told him I knew nothing about, and had not signed anything from the Allied Irish Bank for a loan taken out on my home. I also advised Mr Phybus that the property was in the joint names of myself and my husband.

Around this time, I was diagnosed with secondary cancers. I underwent ten hours of major surgery at the Liverpool Women's Hospital and spent four weeks in hospital. Aas a result, I was far too ill to do anything about my case. My husband sorted all that out and, as far as I was aware, I had more or less lost the house. There was nothing I could do but I do recall that Mr Phybus had my husband sitting all day for one Court hearing in Liverpool when they should in fact have been in the Birmingham Courts.

My husband was representing himself and this mistake led to me getting a knock on my door. When I opened it, three bailiffs gave me and my two daughters fifteen minutes to vacate our home. It was only when the Sheriff of Liverpool, who was also present, got a telephone call from Birmingham Courts allowing me to stay in my home until the case ended and my health improved. We were allowed to re-enter our home.

I did not hear anything from Mr Phybus so I thought everything was in order. At the time I also had an ongoing medical negligence case (another nightmare experience for another day) and I had a home visit from the solicitor conducting this case. He informed me Mr Phybus had ceased practising three months earlier, apparently struck off for tax evasion. I was never told about this and again another court hearing was missed.

I then consulted Jane Woodfine of Cobley's in Liverpool who agreed to take over my file. There were many delays. The Legal Services Commission mixed my legal aid up with the medical negligence legal aid and Cobley's had a long wait for files from the solicitors who had taken over Mr Phybus client list. I was still very poorly and needed another major operation.

Jane Woodfine made an appointment for me to see a barrister - a Mr Mofit - and that was an awful experience! All the man seemed to do was shout at me, telling me he could not save my home. I left his office in tears.

I did not attend any of the Court hearings as I was too ill to travel to Birmingham. After the final hearing, when the Judge granted possession of my home to the Allied Irish Bank, I was given 28 days to vacate the property. When I visited Jane Woodfine after this took place, she informed me I would need to get yet another solicitor to sort out my half share of the sale, saying she was not able to do this.

Mr Mark Bland of Percy, Hughes and Roberts, Birkenhead advised me that he did not see the point of arguing about costs made against me by the courts and stated he was surprised Jane Woodfine had told me she could not sort out the money side of things when apparently she could have. He also said she had wasted money on the barrister as it was too late in the day for him to have been of any help to me. Most of the costs were incurred while Jane Woodfine had my file.

I was awarded one interim payment from Mr Bland a couple of months after he took over my case, and another small payment 12 months later. He held back 6,750 pending the final bill from the legal services commission and informed me he would try to put a case across to them about all the mistakes made by the first two solicitors. That was three years ago. I have since lost count of the e-mails and written letters I have sent to Mr Bland and his office. Every single one was ignored.

For the past 18 months, the Legal Services Commission have also tried many, many times on my behalf to get a response from Mr Bland though I think they were starting to get fed up with me.

While trying to get some advice about Mr Bland's lack of contact with me, I found I should never have lost my home in the first place. The Allied Irish Bank should never have issued a loan to my ex-husband and his business partner without my consent.

I have sent data protection letters to all solicitors involved for myself and the Allied Irish Bank's solicitor, a Mr Moran of Stafford. Also to the Legal Services, Birmingham Courts and the Land Registry.

I have also contacted the Law Society, although they say they cannot help me because of the time scale. They did, however, talk with Mr Bland who said he was not aware I had been trying to make contact with him over the last three years. But three days after I posted Mr Bland a data protection letter, and following his telephone conversation with the Law Society, I had a surprise letter from him. It was full of apologies and contained a cheque for half the amount he had held back - 3,500. He has kept the remaining 3,500 pending the Legal Services bill but promises that everything will be sorted out as soon as possible.

Editorial Comment:

This is outrageous! Without her knowledge, this lady's ex-husband transfers a joint mortgage from the Alliance and Leicester to the Allied Irish Bank to raise additional funds for his business venture and nobody questions the absence of her signature on the paperwork? She is then completely unaware that Allied Irish have taken court action to repossess her home. The first she knows what's happened is when bailiffs hammer on her door.

Then she falls into the hands of solicitors who are, at the very least, incompetent and, at worst, dishonest. Between them, they merely compound her problems.
Not that she needed any further problems - her medical condition alone was more than enough to contend with.

If anyone has had similar experiences, or come across any of the scoundrels mentioned in this report, please contact us. We want to get to the root of this problem and expose the guilty parties.

Visitors' Comments

Roy Carson, Wirral writes:

Join the Club. PHR and Mr Bland also failed me as power of attorney as joint executors of my father's will. They wrote to me after my father died and asked for his car back. In that letter I believed he was alive and well when in fact he was dead and they knew this.

My case was also useless. When I took them to Court, I was told by the Judge to seek legal advice as it was a matter of law. This is a pure cartel of legal Bandits who waste taxpayers' money in Legal Aid Cost Orders and when they fail they make you bankrupt.

"Many men stumble across the truth ... but most manage to pick themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened."

Winston S Churchill

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