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Banks are wasting the time of courts and submitting incorrect affidavits as they take cases to recover money from customers, claims a leading bank auditor.
Mark Radin, managing director of bank auditors Anglia Business Associates (ABA), makes the claims at the same time as a high street bank admits to errors in an affidavit used in a case against a Norwich businessman.
Radin says banks claim more than they are owed in 75 per cent of their cases and would waste less court time if they were more thorough in their first submission.
"The banks' arrogance is showing through," says Radin. "They don't check the accuracy of their figures unless someone like us gets involved. Despite a proven error rate of around 75 or 76 per cent, banks stand accused of bulldozing claims through courts with high-powered lawyers."
The Norfolk auditor found that in 15 per cent of cases, bank officials or solicitors have put signed affidavits before the court swearing to the accuracy of figures, only to withdraw them as a result of an ABA investigation. "Bank officials are obviously signing affidavits on somebody else's assurance," he says.
Brian Capon, information manager for the British Bankers' Association, says a withdrawn affidavit does not necessarily mean a bank accepts its figures are inaccurate. He says a bank may decide the difference between its figures and the ABA's is so small it is better to settle for that sum than fight on. But Radin points out that at other times affidavits have been re-submitted with new figures.
Norwich solicitor Tessa Shepperson confirms a high street bank confessed its first set of affidavit figures submitted in a current case were wrong, and reworked them. "The bank has now sworn another affidavit that its first one was wrong," she says.
Secretary of the Law Society's banking law sub-committee Charles Maggs says it is "very sloppy" of solicitors to file affidavits assuming bank figures are right: "Courts have the power to penalise whoever does it as a criminal offence."