Friday, 17 June 2011
"Jersey Lawyers Nearly Double A Man's Debt!!!"
The number of people seeking help with debt problems in Jersey has doubled in the past three years.
The startling statistic is revealed in the annual report from the Citizens' Advice Bureau.
It is a clear sign just how the economic downturn has impacted on islanders' finances. 'Jason' racked up thousands of pounds of debt, struggling to keep up rent payments for his shop in town.
Jason said: "It went on to the extent that it built up to an amount in the twenty-thousands and the landlord took legal action. I was informed of it and I had to attend the Royal Court for judgement and with legal fees it came to £42,000."
But in the hands of the lawyers this turned into a demand for £70,000. Jason was in for a shock. "I thought how can this be justified from a 42 thousand pound judgement in just so many months to 70. Then I said well I'm not signing that and then I was informed that if I didn't it would be five days before bankruptcy action will be taken."
Feeling the lawyers demands amounted to extortion, Jason sought help from the Citizens Advice Bureau. The charity says unreasonable legal fees often exacerbate clients debt. People in debt are often portrayed as on benefits, in social housing. But the CAB sees a different picture.
They say the number of clients they have helped with debt problems has almost doubled over the last three years. From 121 in 2008 to 237 in 2010. The vast majority of these clients have never been in debt before. They have been used to a good income and good way of life, but have faced a life-changing event such as job loss, ill health or their business has been hit by the Recession.
The Bureau provides free, confidential and impartial advice to help people face up to their debt and work out a repayment plan. Citizens Advice Bureau Manager Malcolm Ferey said: "What we do to work their way through that situation is give them a debt pack and help fix their finances, put their finances back on track."
Without the Citizens Advice Bureau, Jason says he would have sunk into depression, facing the problem alone. He said: "I can only say to anybody that is in any kind of debt not to ignore it but definitely call Citizens Advice Bureau because they're extremely helpful and they can advise you how to go about dealing with it."