The Credit Services Association (CSA) has published its new and revised Code of Practice to cover the activities of both CSA and Debt Buyers and Sellers Group (DBSG) members in preparation for the introduction of a new regulatory regime.
The launch, which followed an extensive period of consultation with members, together with input from the Office of Fair Trading, and support from HM Treasury, BIS and FSA, has resulted in a comprehensive Code that details common and sector-specific principles, and uses language to make the document more accessible and in keeping with current and future regulatory requirements.
Peter Wallwork, Chief Executive of the CSA, says that the review brought about a number of key debates: “Some were around language,” he explains, “and whether the Code should refer to ‘customers’ or ‘debtors’; other debates were potentially more controversial, including whether the Code should make reference to contractual provisions.” In the event, ‘debtor’ was considered the most appropriate terminology and the description used by the OFT in its own Debt Collection Guidance.
While it was agreed that as a trade association, the CSA could not involve itself in areas of commercial negotiation, it was also decided that it could act to assist in the design of a ‘model contract’ that could be used by all members when negotiating with their clients, either in its entirety, or as a point of reference: “The contract will have basic terms, and also include clauses that could be used for negotiating over the removal of paying accounts,” Peter concludes.
In readiness of the new regulatory regime, and to prepare the Membership for what might lie ahead, provisions such as having a separate client account and undertaking due diligence and audits of third parties agencies were also incorporated into the Code.
These are current key requirements under FSA rules and so, by encouraging Members to carry out these provisions (and many others included within the Code) early, the CSA hopes to assist with a smoother transition in the future.
The current Code of Practice has been in place since 1985, and last updated in 2009. Full implementation of the new Code is expected from January 2013.