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Tomlinson Report – Access to Legal Advice for SME’s in claims against banks

Towards the end of last year, Lawrence Tomlinson, Entrepreneur in Residence at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, published his report into “Banks’ Lending Practices; Treatment of Businesses in Distress”.  The focus of much of his attention was on The Royal Bank of Scotland PLC, however the conduct of other banks was also considered.  The purpose of the report was carefully to investigate various types of behaviour on the part of the banks and to consider the conflicts of interest which led to SME customers being treated unfairly.   
One of the issues that Mr Tomlinson highlighted was the difficulties faced by many SMEs in obtaining access to legal advice to allow them to take action against the banks.  His thoughts on this were as follows:- 
“Any law firm that does business with the banks will have a clause in their contract, preventing them from taking action against the banks. This means that for businesses the pool of solicitors available to give them advice and take their case is extremely limited. When you consider the size of the banks and the amount of work they undertake with a range of legal professionals, it is clear to see the problems businesses have in finding legal advice. Many of the top law firms will be conflicted so even if the business has the resource to pay them, they are not able to access the same class of legal advice that the banks can. For many businesses, finding a suitable solicitor is thus exceedingly difficult. Often their own solicitor, who has helped them and their business for many years, is even unable to help in this situation.” 
At Balfour+Manson LLP, we do not act for the banks, therefore no conflicts of interest arise.  We are therefore well placed to advise SMEs and larger corporations on any claims that they may have against any of the banks.  We have one of the biggest litigation teams in Scotland.   If you wish to discuss any such claims, please contact Gordon Deane on 0131 200 1485