There are three key reasons for optimism over the issue of discretionary commission arrangements (DCAs), delegates to a meeting of the Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA) were told recently.

Jonathan Kirk KC of Gough Square Chambers, said that firstly, around three-quarters of claims being brought in county courts were being won by lenders and dealers; secondly, that at least one decision published by the Financial Ombudsman is now the subject of proceedings for judicial review with a good chance of being reversed; and finally, there was considerable scope for potentially knock-out defences under the Limitation Act 1980.

“However,” he said, “dealers and lenders need to be aware that this is an issue that is not going away and needs to be taken seriously. While there are strong grounds to be hopeful, the matter cannot be ignored.

“Also, we believe that the subject of the indemnity that invariably exists between lender and dealer for liabilities has not received the attention it deserves so far, and this is something that is likely to become more important over time.”

Held at the Milton Keynes Dons football ground, the event was organised by the VRA in conjunction with its legal counsel, Jonathan Butler of Geldards LLP and hosted by Suzuki GB. The keynote presentation on DCAs featured Jonathan Kirk KC, Jonathan Goulding and Daniel Brayley of Gough Square Chambers.

Jonathan Kirk is ranked as the star individual silk for consumer law by Chambers and Partners and a Band One KC by the Legal 500, while Jonathan Goulding is similarly also ranked as a leading junior.

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Jonathan Butler, partner at Geldards, said: “Particularly since Martin Lewis’ TV programme in February, the subject of DCAs has been a preoccupation for many parts of motor retail, from dealers to finance providers, and this event provided both expert guidance and a valuable open platform for discussion.

“The legal guidance on offer was of the very highest quality and delegates received an excellent briefing on the subject, and should ultimately now have a much better idea of where they stand.”

Other presentations featured Louis Maxwell, senior insight manager at AutoTrader, on current dynamics affecting the used car sector, while Dale Wyatt, Ed Norman and Ian Banks of Suzuki GB looked at the brand’s product plans including the new Swift, and its general remarketing strategy.

Philip Nothard, chair at the VRA, said: “DCAs are clearly a subject that continues to be a key issue for the used car sector and we intend to offer expert, ongoing commentary to our members and the wider industry as the matter progresses.”

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