Morning business news - March 7

Friday 07 March 2014 11.26
Morning business news with Brian Finn
Morning business news with Brian Finn

The legal rights group FLAC - or the Free Legal Advice Centres - is launching a report today calling for large scale reform of the protections afforded to consumers of credit and other financial services. The report coincides with the publication of the Central Bank review of the sale of PPIs since 2007 which resulted in the refunding of €67m to around 77,000 policyholders.

Paul Joyce, Senior Policy Analyst with FLAC, said the PPI refund news was welcome but, while it showed that the consumer protection code worked in certain circumstances, it does not apply to any cases before 2007. "In the Financial Services Ombudsman scheme, there is a limit of six years to make complaints from the date of the conduct of the provider. So people who availed of PPIs before 2007, that were mis-sold to them, won't benefit from this."

Paul Joyce referred to the revision of the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears last July as a "one-sided review" that benefited the industry more than the consumer. "There is a question over the admissibility of these codes in legal proceedings. The Central Bank amends codes without any apparent parliamentary scrutiny. They essentially draft the codes and enforce them."

The report also calls for greater use of mediation under the remit of the Financial Services Ombudsman for dealing with conflicts between consumers and financial service providers. "Legislation enshrines mediation as a first step to deal with cases. In practice, a lot of financial providers don't engage in mediation. It should be the primary method for dealing with complaints and service providers should have good reason to reject mediation," he said. Paul Joyce warns that there is nothing to prevent further personal debt crisis should credit flow freely again. "A responsible, fair and well-regulated credit market is what we require. Credit institutions at the moment are self-policing, by and large," he stated.

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MORNING BRIEFS - The S&P500 hit another record high last night. At the close of trade in New York, it added nearly or 0.2%, to close above 1,877, its second record close in three days. Investors' sentiment yesterday was lifted by upbeat jobs data. New figure showed that the numbers filing for unemployment fell by 26,000 last week, a bigger drop than expected. Non-farm payrolls - US employment numbers - are due out today which are expected to add to the optimism.

*** The Dublin Port Company is planning on a major redevelopment of the Alexandra Basin in the ports area. It has submitted an application to An Bord Pleanála to carry out extensive improvement works and new construction. Among the proposals is a plan to construct new quay walls and to rebuild existing walls, the dredging of large amounts of contaminated material and the demolition and reconstruction of berths. A new jetty is planned at one of the berths and a 7 metre high marina protection structure is planned for the southern side of the Liffey channel.

*** Last night was a key night for awards ceremonies for the business community. Tony Staunton and his company Propertygate was the overall winner of the 2014 PwC/Dockland's Innovation Awards. Founded two years ago, Propertygate is designed for large scale asset managers who want a single platform to provide transparency of their portfolio. And Keohane Seafoods emerged as the overall winner in the Small Business Awards run by the Small Firms Association. Keohane Seafoods is a Cork based family run business which became the first company in Europe to produce a microwavable skin filmed seafood range from frozen.