The Walker Morris Financial Services Group has more than two decades at the heart of this important sector, working nationally and internationally with some of the biggest names in the industry, and can provide the expertise, experience and knowledge that finance providers can rely on.
Our cross-departmental Group has 22 industry-leading partners and more than 100 lawyers who can provide support across every part of your business, ensuring you are prepared and protected.
We have advised a wide range of UK and international lenders and investors in the sector, including Ares Management, Atalaya Capital Investment, Pollen Street Capital, Quilam Capital and Shawbrook Bank. We are one of the largest law firms outside London that is particularly active in this market, which gives our clients access to top-level advice without London overheads.
In terms of technical issues, we frequently advise on bespoke intercreditor arrangements with other senior and mezzanine lenders and also block discounting providers. We also advise on parallel equity investment via a share option or warrant, led by our Finance team with support from our Corporate team.
Debt portfolio sales and legal due diligence on debt portfolios
We advise on sales and purchases of consumer and SME debt portfolios with values of £500m+, with extensive due diligence being undertaken by our Regulatory team when all or part of a debt book comprises FCA regulated mortgage and unsecured lending.
Alongside our practice advising consumer and SME finance businesses, we advise on the full range of lending transactions, acting on both syndicated and bilateral, and secured and unsecured loans in the fields of asset finance, asset-based lending, and trade, acquisition, leveraged, real state and project finance. In recent years, we have advised local, national and international clients on financing transactions ranging from £1m to £500m within the UK and beyond.
Financial Services Regulation
With 8 expert financial services regulatory lawyers, our Team acts for a wide variety of national and international consumer finance providers across all sectors including prime and sub-prime, first and second charge mortgage lending, personal loans and credit cards, guarantor loans, high cost short term credit and home collected credit. It is led by Jeanette Burgess, who is recognised by Chambers as a national expert in financial services regulation. She was formerly in-house counsel with Provident plc and is on the Board of the Consumer Credit Trade Association.
Non-contentious regulatory advice
We work hard to not only help clients meet compliance rules but also work with those bodies, trade associations and politicians who help shape the future of regulation for this important sector. Retail finance providers must comply with complex legal obligations and FCA rules governing the form and content of lending and post-contractual documents and business standards to deliver the fair treatment of consumers, including those for assessing affordability, debt collection and identifying and dealing with vulnerable customers. We work with a range of lenders, brokers and debt administration businesses in all aspects of consumer finance to deliver compliant documents policies and procedures. We also advise on anti-money laundering and data protection compliance to deliver holistic compliance solutions.
One of our key strengths is undertaking due diligence exercises for investors in regulated consumer finance businesses. Our extensive experience and knowledge of the sector and the FCA’s approach ensures we can deliver deals swiftly and deliver wider commercial insight, benchmarking a specific providers approach in light of our wider sector experience. We provide a clear ‘traffic light’ risk analysis of regulatory breaches and a focussed recommendations for improvement/remediation where required.
Drafting and negotiating commercial agreements, for example between lenders and brokers, is a key area of our practice. This extends to joint ventures including the delivery of ‘white label’ financial products and complex outsourcing and back office arrangements.
Contentious regulatory advice
Operating in such a highly-regulated market carries risks and if you face an investigation or become embroiled in a dispute, you can turn to Walker Morris for expert support and advice. Our Team includes former FCA and SFO investigators who are highly-skilled in managing regulatory investigations and disputes.
We advise businesses on disputes before the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and the courts and have a wealth of experience in matters ranging from defending firms and individuals in FCA disciplinary proceedings and criminal proceedings. This includes allegations of fraud, unauthorised trading and market abuse.