If Restons Solicitors have sent you a letter all called, you’re probably wondering who they are. It’s important that you know what they can and cannot do, and what you should be doing next.
It’s important that you have this information because otherwise, you will be at a serious disadvantage when dealing with them and this could cause you major problems.
Complaints to the Financial Ombudsmen have risen this year from 830 to 2,006, so it’s safe to say that you’re not alone.
Who Are Restons Solicitors?
Restons Solicitors are a Warrington-based firm of solicitors that specialises in debt matters. They work for lenders, financial institutions and utilities.
They collect an average of £50 million each year, with a payment being taken every three seconds.
In 2019, they won the Best Legal Software Solution and Best Data Analytics Solution awards at the Credit and Collections Technology Awards, and they were a finalist in the Law Firm of the Year category at the Credit Strategy Awards.
They have been operating since October 2005. They are ISO9001 and ISO14001 accredited. Christopher and Sara Reston, both Andorran residents, have a controlling interest in the company.
Are They Regulated?
Restons Solicitors don’t need to be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority as they’re what’s known as an Exempt Professional Firm.
However, they are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under SRA Number 425555 and they must comply with the SRA Standards and Regulations.
They are also a member of the Credit Services Agency and as such, they are required to comply with the Credit Services Agency’s Code of Practice.
What Are Restons Solicitors Like to Deal With?
Debt collectors don’t tend to be very popular so as you’d expect, there aren’t many glowing reviews of Restons Solicitors Limited online.
At the Review Solicitors website, all of the reviews have rated the company as “awful” with comments such as:
- “Bullying me”
- “Unprofessional!!! Need shutting down by ombudsman or investigating”
- “On the whole a terrible company”
- “Beware, there is nothing professional about this company”
- “Refusing to help, spoken to like dirt”
In addition, there is a suggestion that they use sharp practices and have a very aggressive policy. According to MoneySavingExpert’s website, Restons Solicitors Limited are known for using “Back Door CCJs”.
Back Door CCJs are a sneaky way for someone to obtain a CCJ without you knowing about it. Basically, they serve the court papers at a previous address of yours even though they know your current address.
When they do this, you are unaware that legal action is being taken against you on account of the fact that you never saw the papers. Therefore, you do not have an opportunity to defend yourself.
Once a CCJ has been issued it costs £250 to try to have it set aside, so many people who have had a Back Door CCJ issued against them end up giving in and paying the debt even though they may not actually have been liable for it.
Essentially, if Restons Solicitors Limited has contacted you, you can expect them to play hardball. They’ll be using every trick in the book and might even be using some tricks that aren’t in the book.
Why Have They Contacted Me?
Restons Solicitors will have contacted you because they have been asked to collect money that one of their clients believes you owe them.
The first thing to do is to check that you actually owe the money. There are allegations online that they try to collect money from people even though they know that those debts are owed by someone else. There are also suggestions that they attempt to collect debts that are no longer legally enforceable because they are statute barred.
You can check that you owe the money that is being claimed by writing to Restons Solicitors asking them to prove the debt. If they cannot do this, they have to mark the debt as settled.
You should not sign this letter in case your signature is used to create a new document that “proves” you owe the money.
Follow my ‘prove it’ guide with letter templates and get them to prove that you owe the money.
I Owe the Money. What Should I Do Next?
If you have received proof from them and you do indeed owe the debt, you can prevent further steps being taken against you by settling it.
If you cannot settle the debt in full, they will agree to a repayment plan, but you should be aware that they are a lot less reasonable than many other debt collectors in terms of the level of repayments that they will accept.
One reviewer on the Solicitors Review website called Lynda claims that Restons Solicitors refused to accept that buying school uniform for her children was a legitimate expense.
What Can Restons Solicitors Do If I Do Not Pay?
The first thing to remember is that they are solicitors, not bailiffs. Solicitors can make your life a misery by constantly writing to you, phoning you and texting you, and they may even visit you at your home, but they have very limited powers.
If they visit you at your home you do not have to let them in. You do not even have to answer the door to them.
In fact, you would be better off if you didn’t talk to them on your doorstep because if you do, they will use high-pressure techniques that could result in you agreeing to something in the heat of the moment that leaves you in a worse situation than you were in the first place.
They cannot take any of your property, either. Only a legally-appointed bailiff can seize your property.
They can, however, take you to court to get a County Court Judgment issued against you. You should not simply ignore them.
Communication is Key
The best advice I can give you when dealing with debt collection services such as these is that you need to keep them updated about what options you’re pursuing.
Share with them what your plans are moving forward about how you’re going to be paying them back.
If you need debt advice about which solution would be the best for you, I highly suggest that you contact an independent debt charity.
Getting in contact with an independent charity and seeking advice from them can be a great way to ensure you’re not being taken advantage of as they know procedures and policy have a firm understanding of how the law works and what your rights are.
They will assess your financial situation and help you determine which solution would help you pay off your debt in the most manageable and affordable way. In some cases, you might find that you don’t have to pay anything at all.
When you contact such an agency for advice, it’s important that you’re completely honest about your financial situation and that you share everything you can with them. It will help them suggest you an appropriate debt solution.
What Options Do I Have?
If you cannot pay the debt in full, you should attempt to agree a repayment plan. Tell Restons Solicitors how much you are able to repay each month by providing them with details of your income and expenditure.
Expect them not to accept the first offer. Many debt collection agencies will be happy to accept a reasonable repayment plan suggestion, but Restons Solicitors will try to extract every last penny from you.
Bear in mind, though, that there is no point agreeing to a repayment plan that you cannot afford as you would not be able to keep up the repayments.
Also bear in mind that if Restons Solicitors take you to court, you will end up with a CCJ against your name but the court will almost certainly accept a more reasonable repayment plan.
See my debt options overview page outlining all your possible debt options and pros and cons of each.
If It’s Not Possible to Agree on a Repayment Plan
If it’s not possible to reach an agreement on a repayment schedule you might want to consider a Debt Management Plan, particularly if you have other debts that you are also struggling to pay.
Under a Debt Management Plan, a debt management firm deals with your debt on your behalf. They negotiate lower monthly payments with the people that you owe.
You make a single payment to the debt management company each month and the debt management company pays all of your creditors from that payment.
If You Cannot Afford to Repay Anything
If you aren’t going to be able to repay the debt, either in full or via some sort of repayment plan, insolvency may be your best option. This comes in a number of forms.
For people on low incomes with no assets, a Debt Relief Order means that you can become debt free in a year provided the amount that you owe is relatively small.
People that don’t qualify for Debt Relief Orders might be better off considering an Individual Voluntary Arrangement. An Individual Voluntary Arrangement usually lasts for five years rather than just the one year, but if you have assets such as a home or a car that you own, you usually get to keep them.
A faster way to become debt free if you don’t qualify for a Debt Relief Order is bankruptcy. If you go down this route it’s quite possible that you could lose your home, your car, and even your job. There is also a £680 fee that needs to be paid up front. However, if you declared yourself bankrupt you would be debt free at the end of a year once you were discharged from your bankruptcy.
You only qualify for the government IVA scheme if your debts are over £1,200 and you have more than one debt. Fill out a 30 second form to see if you qualify using my 5 question virtual assessment.
Restons Solicitors are one of the more aggressive debt collectors in the UK. If they are chasing you for money, it won’t be pleasant.
But remember that they have very limited powers. They are likely to threaten you with all sorts of things, but they cannot enter your home or take your property. If you don’t pay them, the worst thing that will happen is that they will pursue court action against you.
You may be able to convince them to a repayment plan by negotiating with them directly. If you get them to agree to this, get the agreement confirmed in writing before making any payments.
If it is not possible to come to an agreement with Restons Solicitors, you may be able to use a debt management company to arrange a Debt Management Plan on your behalf.
If that’s not possible, you can consider insolvency which will write off your debts and enable you to make a fresh start.