Action group Ashley Law Exmag (ALE), has formally complained to the Financial Services Authority (FSA) over the conduct of intermediary network Ashley Law, asking it to investigate the company’s operations.
The complaints concern Ashley Law’s obligations under the franchise agreement it offers members. Specifically they relate to Ashley Law’s attitude to client ownership, the funds it holds as commission clawback reserves and retrospective charges that were made to former members over management fees they believed to have been waived. Issues have also been raised over the level of money invested in marketing for the individual businesses in the franchise.
Until these issues have been addressed, the group has asked the FSA to prevent any more associate partners being recruited to the network.
The formal complaint to the FSA follows the formation of ALE, a group of ex-network members which was formed on 8 April (p1 Mortgage Solutions 21 April). The group comprises Richard Shorthouse, Mark Horner, Alan Leyshon, Chris Wilson, Paul Naylor, Gerrard Murphy, David Peek, Peter Holsey, Jamie Coates and Cheyne Wilcocks.
The group has also written to Ashley Law with its concerns and says it aims to bring the network to either the negotiating table or court. Jock Cassidy, managing director of Ashley Law said he had received notification of complaints from ALE, but there was nothing specific enough for him to be able to comment further on. Asked if he had any concerns over a possible investigation by the FSA he replied: ‘Absolutely none.’
The FSA was unable to comment over any communication from ALE, although a spokeswoman for the regulator said the FSA would only get involved with any complaint, if the issues were regulatory and not merely contractual as is often the case in such disputes.