It is widespread common knowledge within the industry in which our firm operates that Joanna Connolly Solicitors are specialists in matters pertaining to Consumer Credit. I must immediately qualify that, by saying there are, for example, certain Chambers who are regarded as specialists in assisting financial organisations in ‘getting their Claims over the line.’ However, I am confident no firm provides the specific and bespoke assistance we do to Consumers in defending said Claims.

Not so many years ago the financial industry was supposedly blindsided when it was confirmed that compliance with Section 77-78 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 was a serious matter which they needed to consider, and, more importantly comply with. I have no doubt my principal Solicitor Joanna had a hand in this. One can easily find press releases around the time, whereby such institutions alleged they weren’t aware of their obligations and that such requests had been rare up until that point. A somewhat startling admission of negligence and non-compliance.
That being said; one would also assume a ‘powerhouse’ of a financial institution would have put systems and processes in place in order to ensure non-compliance was a thing of the past. Unfortunately, we find ourselves years down the line, and non-compliance with statutory requirements has, if anything, increased.

Why would it though?

When we live in a time whereby only some 1% of debt Claims are even challenged and default Judgments flood in, in their thousands on a daily basis, why should a Claimant who sues in respect of an agreement regulated by the Consumer Credit Act 1974 worry about that 1%? The balance sheet relating to the 99% Default Judgments is more than enough for them to justify non-compliance with the few. In their eyes at least.

Joanna Connolly Solicitors does, and will continue to, specialise in Consumer Credit, and will always advocate for the protections the Act was designed to provide to Consumers. Our record is truly second to none.

However, we remain a firm of Solicitors, and as such we practice in many more areas. Something which I think is sometimes overlooked. A classic example would be the conclusion of a case this week, in which our Client was successful in defending a Claim, at Trial, issued by Highways England.

Our Client was the subject of a Claim in which it was alleged damage had been caused to Crown Property due to a Road Traffic Accident. I stress the wording of ‘Crown Property’, as I feel in cases such as these any reference to ‘The Crown’ are used to provide immediate credence to a Claimant’s case. A Judge is much more likely to find against the Defendant if the Claimant is insinuating it is endorsed by the Crown.

The claim was issued by Highways England, who had instructed a well-known firm of Solicitors, and were represented by highly respected Counsel. The claim was supported by reports from Highways England, their instructed engineers, witness evidence taken by the Police shortly after the event and even evidence of members of the general public. All of which appeared damning to our Client who maintained her innocence in relation to the allegations put before her.

A considerable mountain of evidence to overcome, on paper at least. I myself was one day welcomed to the office by an email a few days before Trial from the Claimant’s Solicitors, which ‘explained’ to me that our Client had zero prospects of succeeding at Trial.

Joanna and I conducted further personal and distance attendances, in order to assess and fully understand her position. I have to say our Client demonstrated herself to be a highly credible witness from the outset.

Joanna Connolly Solicitors may not be the biggest firm and our Client had been ‘backed against the wall’ by all of the parties apparently in opposition to her. However, it comes down to one of my favourite adages; ‘it isn’t the size of the dog in the fight that counts, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.’ Our Client was brave in the face of such adversity and our firm was meticulous in our approach to preparing our Client's case.

At Trial our Client was completely vindicated and the Claim was dismissed. I refer to the ruling of Lord Dyson in a case whereby he effectively confirmed the Court must always seek to provide justice and justice was upheld in this case.

My joining the team at Joanna Connolly Solicitors has provided Joanna with more availability to personally attend Hearings and present Client cases to Judges. She does this due to her position as Solicitor Advocate of the High Court, and was exceptional in cross-examination of the Claimant’s witness, obtaining notable and detrimental admissions relating to the weakness of the Claimant’s Claim and evidence which would have otherwise gone without question. Our Client was also held to be a credible witness when faced with cross-examination from the other side.

I hope people find this post useful. In that Joanna Connolly Solicitors are and likely always will be focused specialists in Consumer Credit, though we are much more than that. And I hope people understand that they are not alone. We are here to help Consumers. No matter how bleak the situation may seem Joanna Connolly Solicitors can assist.

Colin G Quinn