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Financial Claims Company
Carl Wright, Cartel Client Review Ltd, Cartel Marketing Ltd,
Cartel International Ltd,
Sharon Yvette Sherratt,
Consumer Credit Litigation Solicitors aka Burleys,
Richard J. Burley, Karl A Berry,
Grass Roots Financial Ltd, Eric Webb, Sandra Webb,
Grass Roots (Debt Solutions) Ltd
Ralston Ferguson, The Claims Warehouse
Eric Fairweather

This is one of a few examples of Business Opportunity Watch Reviews which are freely available for everyone to read on the public section of the website. The reason for making a small sample of the reviews freely available is to help you to decide if you want to join, and also to communicate some matters of general interest arising in the case of some of the reviews. All the other reviews are available only to members.

A zero score or a low score means that in our opinion the business model or the investment model has flaws and/or that we have found inadequate evidence to back up claims about earnings, sales, profits etc. It doesn't mean this evidence does not exist and it doesn't mean that the opportunity is a scam and it doesn't mean that the promoters are unprofessional or dishonest. Questions arising are normally contained within the body of the review, and readers who are interested should contact the company with these questions and/or questions of their own.

  1. 15th May 2008 Business Opportunity Watch Review of Cartel Client Review

  2. Update 18th October 2009, Cartel Client Review, Carl Wright, Consumer Credit Litigation Solicitors aka Burleys, Richard J. Burley, Karl A. Berry

  3. Update 28th November 2009, Cartel Client Review, Carl Wright
    Agents' agreements and the Trading Scheme Regulations, Clawback of commissions

  4. Feedback from Cartel Client Review Agents and Customers

  5. Update 16th March 2010 re Grass Roots Financial Ltd, Grass Roots Debt Solutions Ltd, Eric Webb, Sandra Webb

  6. Feedback 19th March 2010 re Closure of Cartel Client Review

  7. 17th June 2010 BOW Letter to Grass Roots (Financial) Ltd, Eric Fairweather, Carl Wright, Ralston Ferguson

  8. Update 1st July 2010 re The Claims Warehouse and Ralston Ferguson

  9. Update 1st July 2010 Cartel Client Review Ltd in compulsory liquidation

1. Review from Business Opportunity Watch Reviews
Issue 15 May 2008

Cartel Client Review Ltd
Building 7
Exchange Quay
M5 3EP
Tel: 0845 0711 500

- Extract from sales copy
- Review

Extract from sales copy:

Cartel Client Review Sales Representatives

A fantastic opportunity has arisen to join a company whose level of experience and service in the financial industry ensures your clients are in safe hands.

We are looking for confident, self-motivated, sales driven individuals to join the expanding sales force.

Experience in sales is not essential, as full training and ongoing support will be provided.

Working from home your role involves visits to clients' homes. A full driving licence and own transport is essential, as is the ability to work flexible hours.

For your dedication and commitment you will also receive:

  • Initial training and one-to-one management support
  • Uncapped earning potential; earn what you are worth
  • Opportunity to build your own team
This is a fantastic opportunity for an ambitious, entrepreneurial and sales driven individual who is dedicated to offering a totally unique service to their clients, which can produce seriously high levels of income.

To apply for this fantastic opportunity please contact:

Business Development Manager -Tel: 07828 079626

Please note that, due to the high volume of response for this vacancy, only candidates who show evidence of meeting the strict criteria set will be contacted


Cartel Client Review have been recruiting heavily for sales representatives and - judging from the number of individual websites which show up on Google if you key in the search terms "Cartel Client Review Representatives" - they have been having quite a bit of success.

As a sales representative of Cartel Client Review, you would obtain for your clients "financial compensation as a result of invalid, unenforceable or fundamentally flawed consumer credit agreements. These include mortgage, secured loan and motor finance contracts. Working closely with solicitors, auditors and other professionals, Cartel Client Review provides a service designed to assist our Clients claiming a settlement within 6 to 12 months of their claim being accepted by our panel."

Your job as a Cartel Client Review sales representative would be to forward details of your clients' loans to Cartel Client Review to see if they qualified for compensation. Normally within 24 hours, your client would receive a report from Cartel Client Review's internal underwriting (vetting) department stating which products qualify for a claim, and your client would then decide which claims to proceed with.

The client then has to pay Cartel Client Review £495 in advance as a Review Fee to take the case forward, although this fee is discounted to £175 for a credit card or personal unsecured loan if you are proceeding with a claim for another £495 product, and there is no Review Fee for repossession prevention.

Review Fees are fully refundable by Cartel Client Review if the case cannot be pursued for any reason, and Cartel tells us that they have refunded hundreds of clients where claims have been assessed as having less than reasonable prospects of success. We previously stated incorrectly that these fees were not refundable, and we apologise for this error and any damage it may have caused.

The standard advice is that it is risky to pay a fee for a service in advance - particularly where the results of this service could take up to a year to be achieved. This risk is, of course, reduced where the fees are refundable but it's still not entirely eliminated unless they are backed by an insurance bond or they're kept in a separate client account from which they cannot be released for expenditure by the company until the service has been performed.

What about the terms for people wanting to join the business opportunity offered by Cartel Client Review? These sound very fair since there is no cost to join as such, apart from the cost of an "Induction Training Day" at £29.30, Business Cards costing £35.25, and a monthly fee for the software of £17.57 including VAT.

As an agent of Cartel Client Review, you receive a commission of £125 for each product you sell where a £495 fee applies. The main financial reward for agents, however, is the 30% commission they hope to receive on their clients' Success Fees.

For successful claims, 30% of any monies recovered are paid to Cartel Client Review as a Success Fee, except for motor finance and repossession mortgage claims where no Success Fee is payable and for repossession compensation claims where a reduced success fee of 5% applies.

Cartel Client Review Ltd is quite correctly registered with the Ministry of Justice as a company offering a Claims Management service.

According to the Cartel Client Review website (see the "history" page) Carl Wright has been a spokesman for "mis-selling" scandals" in the press as follows:
  • in Mortgage Strategy October 2005 Carl Wright predicted that "The sub-prime market is in crisis and runs the risk of becoming the next big mis-selling scandal".
  • in Financial Adviser 27 October 2005 Carl Wright said, "I have been told by directors of sub-prime lenders that at least half of customers that have gone to mid-to-heavy adverse products could have been sold near prime or prime products".
  • in The Sunday Express 30 October 2005 Carl Wright said that, "Brokers are knowingly recommending the wrong mortgage to secure higher commissions".
  • Financial Adviser 3 November 2005 reported that, in respect of Carl Wright, "Leading sub-prime advisers have blasted a top IFA for claiming the non-confirming sector was at risk of mis-selling mortgages".
  • Financial Adviser 17 November 2005, under the title "FSA looks into Wright's claims", reported that Carl Wright was "a board member of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries and industry commentator" and that the "FSA is investigating allegations of sub-prime mortgage mis-selling" following "a complaint from an IFA".


As you would expect for a "top IFA", Carl Wright is recorded on the FSA Register. Curiously, though, his status is categorised as inactive.

Unfortunately, following this publicity in late 2005, Carl Wright was soon to have problems of his own. On 17th September 2007 his company Cartel Marketing Ltd was compulsorily wound up in the High Court under the Insolvency Act. It was soon followed by another Cartel company, Cartel International Limited which was likewise compulsorily wound up in the High Court on 14th October 2007 under the Insolvency Act, having changed its name to Quay Communications and Services Ltd.

Carl Wright had resigned as a director of Cartel International Ltd on 18th January 2006.

Carl Wright remains the sole director of Cartel Marketing Ltd, all of the other directors having resigned. One of the last directors of Cartel Marketing Ltd to resign was Sharon Yvette Sherratt, on 2nd August 2007. On the same day, Carl Wright resigned as the sole director of Cartel Client Review Ltd and Sharon Yvette Sherratt became the sole director in his place.

Cartel Client Review Ltd has share capital of just £10. Although it was set up over 10 years ago in 1998 it never traded until late 2007. It's unusual that, having carefully complied with all the statutory requirements for a dormant company for nearly 10 years, as soon as the company sprang into action Carl Wright resigned his directorship.

I'm mindful to give this company a low rating, not just because of the failure of a couple of Cartel companies in the past - anyone can run into trading problems - but also because of Carl Wright's unusual choice not to accept statutory responsibility for Cartel Client Review Ltd by not being a director and because of the company's terms of trade whereby they ask members of the public to pay a high fee per case in advance.

Questions on Cartel Client Review

I had a couple of questions about Cartel Client Review to which I was unable to find the answers, so I wrote to the company on 5th May 2008 as follows:

Dear Sirs

Cartel Client Review - Sales Agency Opportunities

I publish an online magazine which researches business opportunities, and a subscriber has asked me for an assessment of the agency opportunity offered by your company, for subsequent publication in my magazine.

To assist me with this, I should be most grateful if you could reply to the following questions:

  1. I came across a posting on a forum from a lady who states that she was told by a representative of your company that the fee for dealing with a claim for compensation for mis-selling in respect of her credit card would incur an initial fee of £125 and also, if any of the balance on her card was written off or charges were refunded, Cartel Client Review would take a further fee of 30% of any monies recovered.

    I should be grateful if you would confirm that this lady was mistaken about the further fee, since the "Terms of Business" letter displayed on your website makes no mention of any fees apart from the initial fee.

  2. I understand that there are two possible self-employed sales positions with your company.

    a) Firstly, to become a Representative involves costs of £29.30 for the Induction Training Day, plus £35.25 for business cards and £17.57 per month for software. Commissions receivable on sales made by the Representative amount to £125 for each case of a mortgage, secured loan or car finance review plus a bonus for each completed case payable on 20th December of £150.

    b) Secondly, a Master Agency is available, for which the cost is £5,000 + VAT. The Master Agent receives commissions not only on his own sales, but also on the sales of people he has recruited to his team. Could you please confirm that this is correct, and also forward a copy of the Agreement for the Master Agency. Could you please also confirm that this Agreement complies with the UK Trading Schemes Regulations as required.

    With thanks in advance for your assistance,

    Yours faithfully
    Marian Owen

A failure to comply with the UK Trading Schemes Regulations would be a criminal offence. No doubt Cartel Client Review does comply, but why isn't there any indication on their website, such as the Statutory Warning?

Here's the link to useful explanatory from the DTI (now the BERR) about the Trading Schemes Regulations:

Despite sending a follow-up reminder, I had no reply from Cartel Client Review to this May 2008 letter. However, as Cartel pointed out to me on 3rd November 2009, for credit card contracts their website did state that a fee was payable to Cartel of 30% of the total of interest repaid, payments returned and balance cleared. I apologise to Cartel Client Review for any damage that may have been caused by this error ... although it's a pity they did not reply when I questioned them about this in May 2008.

As regards the second question above, Cartel told me that they "can confirm that the Cartel Rolling Sales Agreements are fully compliant with Trading Schemes Regulations having been compiled and maintained with assistance and advice from solicitors specialising in this area". Oddly, two Master Agents have both told me that they have two contracts each - one of which does not comply with the Trading Schemes Regulations and one which does. In addition, I have two Rolling Sales Agreements for "The Representative", neither of which comply. Mistakes, obviously.



BOW Notice: A critical review which raises hard-hitting questions means that in our opinion the business model or the investment model has flaws and/or we have found inadequate evidence to back up claims about earnings, sales, profits etc. It doesn't mean this evidence does not exist and it doesn't mean that the promoters are unprofessional or dishonest. Questions arising are normally contained within the body of the review, and readers who are interested should contact the company with these questions and/or questions of their own.


2. Update 18th October 2009

Cartel Client Review
Carl Wright
Consumer Credit Litigation Solicitors aka Burleys, Richard J. Burley, Karl A. Berry

Cartel Client Review says on their website that they had ten thousand Client Reviews in progress in July 2008 and for which the company has been paid.

How many of these claims have been successfully completed is unknown, although an unhappy Cartel Client Review Master Agent who contacted me said that he had not had a single one of his "many hundreds of cases" completed and he had been involved as a Master Agent for over two years, and another Agent who contacted me had over 200 claims with no completions.

Certainly, if Cartel Client Review had had a good proportion of their credit card claims completed by January of this year, then it is surprising that they did not forward these details to the Advertising Standards Authority in defence of a complaint by a member of the public over a radio ad for Cartel's credit card review service. The listener challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied that a person had a good chance of having their credit card debts written off if they had taken the credit card out before April 2007, because they believed the circumstances in which that was possible were limited. The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the ad was misleading and that it must not be broadcast again in its current form because they considered that they had not seen evidence that demonstrated the number of Cartel Client Review's clients that had successfully won their claim to have their credit card debts written off, or evidence that showed what proportion of their total client base the successful clients represented.

Cartel Client Review, however, contacted me on 3rd November 2009 to say that they "strongly refute" any suggestion that only a few claims have been concluded to date.

There certainly seems to be no doubt that Cartel Client Review achieves successes every few days with the loan and credit card agreements it challenges on behalf of its clients. According to the blog on the company's website at, in the two-week period from 14th October to 27th October 2009 it had six successes as follows:

  • On 27th October 2009 Cartel Client Review client Mr D received nearly £4,000 in compensation in respect of a bank loan.

  • On 24th October 2009 Cartel Client Review client Miss B received nearly £3,000 in compensation in respect of a bank loan.

  • On 21st October 2009 Cartel Client Review client Mr G received around £1,500 in compensation in respect of a bank loan.

  • On 19th October 2009 Cartel Client Review clients Mr and Mrs F received repayment of mis-sold PPI premiums in respect of a bank loan.

  • On 17th October 2009 Cartel Client Review client Mr. C received nearly £3,000 compensation in respect of a bank loan.

  • On 14th October 2009 a Cartel Client Review client had his credit card balance of £10,000 with a leading high street bank "written off in full and all adverse credit references were removed from the client's file".

Presumably, these cases are only a small sample of the cases which Cartel Client Review is completing each day because, with ten thousand claims in progress as at July 2008, that would imply that 27 claims would be needed to be completed each day to clear them ... unless a large proportion of the ten thousand claims were rejected.

Writing off credit card balances and other unsecured loans

I find it worrying that a lot of members of the public have paid Cartel Client Review audit fees of £495 in the expectation that their loans will be written off when this cannot be said with any certainty until various cases have been heard by the courts.

However, Cartel Client Review says as follows:

"a. There are clear legal arguments, backed up by successful cases for all types of claims currently managed by Cartel, irrespective of various cases ongoing. Certain cases may resolve any uncertainty in relation to specific, less 'mainstream', legal arguments.

b. Cartel operates a continuously evolving underwriting system to minimise the chance of accepting a claim where a refund will be required, as is clear on our website

c. In specific reference to 'unenforcable (sic)' claims the law applied in the vast majority of Cartel's cases is a matter of fact, as is the legal remedy"

Cartel Client Review's solicitors, Consumer Credit Litigation Solicitors, have a website at I could not find the name of the firm of solicitors on the website, which I found odd because solicitors these days are normally keen on publicity. However, I was able to identify the firm from the Law Society registration number at the foot of each page on the site. This registration number corresponds to a firm called Burleys Solicitors, whose head office is in Manchester and which has another branch in Newark, Nottinghamshire. Two Burleys partners' names are also given on the contact page of the website - Richard J. Burley, who is the senior partner, and Karl A. Berry, another partner. Burleys is a reasonable size, with 19 solicitors and lawyers at the Manchester office and 3 at the Newark office.

Burleys' website at is an odd one because, despite having been live since July 2008, most of the pages on the site simply say "Coming Soon ...". Unusually for a firm of solicitors, even the Terms and Conditions and the Legal Disclaimer are "Coming Soon ...", in addition to most of the other pages on Burleys' website, i.e. those headed Form of Authority, Claimant Identification Sheet, Alternative Funding Questionnaire, Conditional Fee Arrangement Verbal Explanation, Solicitor's Introduction and Explanation Letter and Conditional Fee Arrangement.

Burleys' Recruitment page, however, does contain an enlightening few lines. It says:

"Due to rapid expansion we are recruiting for the following positions:

Fee Earners
Administrative Staff

Please contact us to find out more."

Clients of Cartel Client Review whose credit card debt or loan debt is written off might find that it's not such an advantage as they had hoped. Firstly, there is the 30% fee payable to Cartel, and secondly there is the question of the effect on their credit record.

Regarding the 30% fee, it's true that some cases might result in the claimant (i.e. you) receiving a compensation payment in cash in addition to your loan or debt being written off, but that's not normally the case. Normally, you would receive no cash payment. So you could end up having jumped from the frying pan into the fire, having exchanged a credit card debt or a loan of, say, £10,000 that you can repay in instalments over years for a debt of £3,000 which you are required to repay immediately. And if your credit record is poor, then you probably couldn't borrow this fee from elsewhere.

Cartel Client Review points out that you have 70% less debt than previously and they also say that they will work, and have worked, with clients in cases where there is genuine difficulty to meet any conditional fee arrangement.

Regarding the effect on your credit record, the recent High Court decision in the case of Royal Bank of Scotland v McGuffick confirmed that you are still liable for the debt even if it is declared unenforceable. Mr. Justice Flaux ruled: "although the [Consumer Credit Act] may render the agreement unenforceable, the agreement remains a valid and subsisting contract and rights and obligations under it continue to exist". Mr. Justice Flaux also ruled on what "enforcement" means. He said that it does not mean reporting the debtor to credit reference agencies or demanding payment from the debtor or bringing proceedings.

Here's a link to the judgement in Royal Bank of Scotland v McGuffick:

This decision means that the only way to protect your credit rating is to keep making repayments.

If your agreement is held to be unenforceable, then it seems that the only thing that the lender can't do is to send in the bailiffs, but there is nothing to stop them reporting you to credit reference agencies, demanding payment from you and even bringing proceedings.

Overall, then, the conclusion is that if you don't repay a loan - whether enforceable or unenforceable - then you are likely to damage your credit record and - due to the requirement to pay 30% of any amount written off as a fee to Cartel which is payable immediately - you could still be in financial difficulties and reliant on Cartel's generosity and understanding to give you time to pay.

Cartel Client Review points out that they have never advised their clients to cease making payments on debts until they are confirmed as being unenforceable, and to the best of their knowledge no Cartel client who has had their debt "written off" has been left with a black mark on their credit rating as the result of this process. Cartel's interpretation of the McGuffick v RBS case is as follows:

"In RBS v McGuffick the agreement was found to be enforceable, the defence put forward by McGuffick's representation was (in highly simplified form) that, by registering adverse credit against Mr McGriffick's credit file, RBS had enforced an agreement that they were not entitled to (at the point of adverse credit information being registered RBS had failed to produce the agreement - RBS subsequently produced the agreement and the agreement was found to be enforceable). In no way can it be supposed that this case means that lenders will be able to register adverse credit against irredeemably unenforceable agreements."

The DIY alternative

In the previous version of our review of Cartel Client Review we named five companies as giving a low-cost service for consumers wanting to find out if their loans could be written off. We don't know what the reasons were in the individual cases, but three of these companies do not currently hold authorisation with the Ministry of Justice and so they are not now offering these services. Normally, as regular readers of our reviews will know, we try to provide details of alternative sources of the same or similar offers. But in view of the decimation of our previous list of alternative providers of financial claims services, we're not going to attempt that again. Instead, as an alternative, we suggest that if you want to find out if your credit card debt or your unsecured loan debt can be written off, why not do it yourself?

- You can find template letters at (you have to register on the site, but this is free)

- Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert is working on a step-by-step guide at

Claiming repayment of payment protection insurance

Cartel Client Review has received wonderful publicity recently in the form of a case they took to South Shields county court in respect of Mrs. Lynne Thorius. This resulted in the write off of her credit card debt of approximately £8,000 and the return of ppi contributions of around £2,500. You can read all the details here:

Mrs. Thorius had a very strong case because:

- she was a cleaning supervisor on a low income who said that she never asked for the ppi insurance and she ticked the box to say that she did not want ppi on the application form, but the policy was initiated anyway with a charge of £20 a month. The credit card company was unable to provide documentation to prove that she had requested ppi.

- there was an "unfair relationship" within the meaning of section 140 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 because the credit card company could not prove that they had disclosed to Mrs. Thorius that they would receive commission from the sale of ppi.

If you are currently paying for ppi insurance in connection with a credit card or loan and you believe that either you never requested it and/or it was not disclosed to you that the credit card company or loan company would receive commission on the ppi insurance then you too, like Mrs. Thorius, might be able to get a refund of the ppi insurance premiums you have paid.

If you don't feel that you can handle this yourself, then you can get a firm like Cartel Client Review to do it for you, but this will cost you 30% of the refund. Otherwise, get ready to write some letters and have a look at the following websites which show you how to do it for yourself:

  1. Martin Lewis's Money Saving Expert article:

Update on Cartel Client Review's statutory position

Cartel Client Review's statutory position, as shown on records at Companies House, reveals some interesting new twists and surprises.

Firstly, after having been dormant from 1998 when it was incorporated until 31st July 2007, Cartel Client Review filed its first accounts for the period from 1st August 2007 to 30th September 2008. Surprisingly, since the company's website says "Cartel Client Review is probably the UK's largest and fastest growing financial claims management company", these accounts recorded a substantial loss of £563,003.

Secondly, there have been some musical chairs with the directorships. Carl Wright was appointed as the sole director of Cartel Client Review when the company was incorporated in 1998 and then, after nine years during which the company was dormant, he resigned as a director on 2nd August 2007 two days after it sprang into action. He was replaced as the company's sole director by Sharon Yvette Sherratt. Carl Wright was re-appointed as a director on 16th June 2008 and on 1st September 2009 Sharon Yvette Sherratt resigned as director, leaving Carl Wright once more as the sole director of Cartel Client Review Ltd.

There have been some other changes, too. Cartel Client Review has just ten issued shares of £1 each. Previously, all of these were held by Carl Wright's wife Olivia. However, she disposed of them all to Carl Wright on 2nd October 2008.

More recently, on 21st August 2009 two unusual charges were registered against Cartel Client Review Ltd at Companies House. The first charge is a debenture in favour of Carl Wright personally covering all present and future obligations and liabilities of the company towards him. Under this debenture, there are fixed charges over the company's freehold and leasehold property, all of its plant and machinery etc, all its investments, all proceeds of insurances and "all its rights, title, interest and benefit in and to the Collections Accounts". Under this debenture there is also a floating charge over "all its assets and undertaking whatsoever and wheresoever situated both present and future".

It's very odd that someone who is the sole director and sole shareholder of a company for which only six months previously he had provided the company's auditors with "prepared forecasts which indicate the company will trade profitably in the ensuing year and will continue to generate positive cash flows" would feel the need for such an unusual step as taking out a debenture against his own company in favour of himself.

This debenture has a number of implications, including the fact that Cartel Client Review will not now find it easy to raise finance, if required, because it has no assets to offer to a lender as reasonable security.

And that's not the end of it. A second charge was also drawn up and registered on the same date, this time in favour of Carl Wright and MJF SSAS Trustees Ltd together as trustees of Cartel Pension Scheme One, in connection with a loan of £300,000 from the pension scheme to Cartel Client Review Ltd. This time, Cartel Client Review assigned to the trustees of the pension scheme as security a long list of about 600 claims being dealt with by Burleys, each identified by a reference number, together with the payment of Referral Fees and any monies that may become payable to the company in connection with the Claims.

600 claims given as security for a loan of £300,000 means that on average each claim is valued at only £500 for the purposes of the security. This seems very low, because of course the value of these claims is the 30% fee which would be earned from their successful conclusion. For the purposes of the security, then, either the view was taken that a fair proportion of these claims would not succeed or the average amount expected to be written off (in the case of credit card or loan debts) or recovered (in the case of ppi insurance refunds) is only £1,667 (i.e. £500 divided by 30%). Perhaps the answer is that this list of claims mainly consists of ppi claims where the claimants have only been paying £25 or £30 a month for 5 or 6 years, which would mean that they had paid out only approx. £1,500/£2,000.

Still interested in joining Cartel Client Review as a representative?

In addition to reading the above review from the May 2008 edition of Business Opportunity Watch (and, if you are interested in a Master Agency, verifying for yourself that the agreement is compliant with the UK Trading Schemes Regulations), I advise anyone interested in joining Cartel Client Review to talk to as many people already in it as possible (you can find contact details by doing a search on the Internet). I have heard some representatives of claims management firms saying that it is easy to make a few sales initially to people who know and trust you, but after that it gets more difficult because of the upfront fee. Clearly, therefore, it is important to have good sales skills, in addition to being committed and persistent in marketing your business.

In my view, however, it is risky to market the credit card/loan write off service at this stage before the various cases currently going through the courts have reached their conclusion, because you could find yourself saddled with some unhappy customers. You would also, of course, need to market it transparently to your potential customers as regards their need for funding for the success fee and as regards the potential damage to their credit rating if they don't repay the loan.


3. Update 28th November 2009

Cartel Client Review
Carl Wright
Agents' agreements and the Trading Scheme Regulations
Clawback of commissions

I recently had an email from someone who had just attended one of Cartel's training courses. He wanted to flag to me that any commission paid in respect of unenforceable credit commitments may be reclaimed from Cartel agents at any time in the future if the case does not proceed to a successful conclusion. He felt that this alone made the whole earnings process with Cartel very risky as an agent might find that he suffers a claw-back of most or even all the commission he has earned.

The author of the email confirmed to me, as have people who have attended Cartel's training courses in the past, that the prospect of receiving commission from building a team was a major part of the training and incentive presentation. In my view, however, the fact that in the wording of the contract Cartel may have given themselves the right to reclaim commission paid to agents is irrelevant. As mentioned above - link - legally, it seems to me that Cartel would not have an unrestricted right to do so because their whole scheme - both for agents and master agents - falls under the Trading Schemes Regulations because, in the words of the Trading Schemes Act 1996, it "applies to any trading scheme if ... the prospect is held out to participants of receiving payments or other benefits in respect of ... the introduction by any person of other persons who become participants in a trading scheme ... the supply of goods or services by any person to or for other persons" etc.

Under the Trading Scheme Regulations, agents are legally entitled to certain protections and benefits and these ought to be reflected in their contracts. However, they are entitled to them by law regardless of what the contract says. These benefits are set out in the DTI booklet The Trading Schemes Guide at the following link:

Agents' benefits include the fact that commissions can only be clawed back on
termination of their contract, and even then they can only be clawed back
for the previous 90 days.

I have contacted Cartel to ask them to respond on this point.


4. Feedback from Cartel Client Review Customers and Agents:

Have you tried this opportunity?

If you would like to comment on it please send us an email. Your feedback will then be posted here anonymously unless you tell us that you want your contact details included.

Feedback 19 January 2010 from Exagent:

Hi Marian,

In brief, I was a Cartel agent but only put though my case and the in-law's case because Carl Wright, to me, did not come across as a responsible person on the training/sales day. It seemed to me that his main focus was to get his audience excited about how much they can earn rather than what is best for the clients. One of the things he was suggesting is that if people didn't have the up-front money for their cases they should put the Cartel fees on their credit card and then put that card though for claim - How irresponsible it that?

Between the 2 of us we put through 5 claims and all have been rejected despite being told of a 99+% of success. And some 19 months on we are still awaiting our refunds despite many attempts to recover it!!

On the basis of my own experience, I am worried that a lot of people may lose out with Cartel, apart from Carl Wright who seems to have his arse covered.


Editorial reply to Exagent:

In fact, it was good advice to tell people to pay their Cartel fees by credit card because they are covered by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, the bank issuing the credit card is jointly liable with Cartel. This means that anyone who can show that there has been breach of contract (failure to make refunds despite the claims being rejected) can require the credit card company to refund them if the Cartel has not refunded them. All you need to do is to write to your credit card company as follows:
  1. Refer to the credit card company's joint liability for the payment to Cartel Client Review under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

  2. Give your credit card number and state the amount and date of the transaction.

  3. Enclose some evidence of the refund requests you have made to Cartel.

  4. Enclose the following two pieces of documentation from the Cartel Client Review website:

    a. Frequently Asked Questions

    Print off page one of:

    and highlight the text under question 2 which says:

    "The review fee is refunded should a claim be unsuccessful (subject to Terms and Conditions)."

    b. Terms and Conditions

    Print off a copy of the Terms and Conditions here: remote

    and highlight paragraph 4(a) which says:

    "(a) If during the provision of the Services You have an Unsuccessful Claim, You will be given the option to transfer the Review Fee (but not a deferred Review Fee) to another Product. If You confirm that You do not wish to transfer the Review Fee that You have paid We will refund it to You within a reasonable period of time, which will not exceed thirty (30) days."

  5. Send the letter by Recorded Delivery.

Note that you can still make this claim even if your credit card has been cancelled, and you have six years to make a claim under section 75.

Do not be surprised or discouraged if the first letter you receive from the credit card company reads like a standard rebuffal letter. Sadly, we have heard that some banks routinely send out a refusal letter as their first reply, apparently regardless of the merit of the claim. If this happens, then write back to the credit card company saying that they do not seem to have looked at your claim properly and ask them to now look at it properly and refund you within 14 days so that you do not have to make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman.

If you still do not receive satisfaction, then complain to the Financial Ombudsman here:

Hope this helps.

Feedback 20th January 2010 from InterestOnly:


I had an interest only mortgage for approximately 6 years (2000 to 2006) before transferring to another lender.

About a year ago I submitted details of the initial loan to Cartel/Consumer Credit Litigation Solicitors for their consideration for a possible refund but have heard nothing since I submitted further details in October to the above mentioned solicitors.

Thus I paid my loan in full for 6 years before moving on to another lender. In the event (it seems slight now) of getting anything back from that loan agreement, or not as the case may more likely be, where does that leave me in respect of Cartel Client Review and any charges? I recall paying a modest fee at the outset to them by way of a cheque, and was told 'no refund no further fee' but do you have any thoughts on that?


Editorial Reply to InterestOnly:

The terms of service for Cartel Client review to deal with a claim for a mortgage seem to be at this link:

(Update - link no longer works because whole site gone.)

This suggests that the fee you paid to Cartel Client Review was £495. Is this right? Also, according to the Terms and Conditions, it seems that you are entitled to a refund within 30 days if your claim is unsuccessful.

If my understanding is correct, then you could try sending a Recorded Delivery letter to the solicitors saying that since you have not heard from them for four months you assume that your claim is unsuccessful and therefore you would like a full refund within 30 days, failing which you will complain to the Law Society.

I am not sure what grounds you (or they) had for believing that you might be able to get money back from your loan agreement. Certainly a lot of new companies have jumped on the bandwagon and opened for business, asking customers to pay them a fee in advance, and a lot of them seem to have little experience.

If you did still want to pursue the possibility of getting money back on your loan, it is difficult to know which company to approach. However, I have found a couple which - by pure coincidence - are local to me. The reason why I have chosen to give you the contact details of these companies is because they are run by people with good experience and credentials - and people whose opinions are quoted from time to time in the press (but then so is Carl Wright of Cartel!!). Obviously, you should satisfy yourself that you are happy with these firm's credentials and the service they offer before you pay them.

The websites of the two firms are:

Best wishes

Feedback 8th February 2010 from Eagle:


I've been reading through your website with regard your review of Cartel Client Review and wanted to send you my experiences.

I have been an agent for Cartel Client Review since August 2008 and still am registered with them.

I submitted 82 claims between August 2008 and June 2009 and have yet to have a single claim conclude.

Based on my own experience, there are many things that concern me with the way Cartel Client Review operate - in no particular order:

  1. They have failed to make commission payments to agents twice in the last three months - November & January.

  2. Their communication with clients once a claim is submitted is non-existent. emails and phone messages do not get returned. Even emails sent with read receipts don't seem to be opened.

  3. Obtaining a refund for failed cases is a nightmare. I've had two such cases where it took between four and six months to get a refund.

  4. In my view, the sales tactics which they encouraged at regional meetings were extremely dubious. I can't prove this but we were repeatedly told that ALL credit cards taken out prior to April 2007 were flawed and would have the balances written off, with the potential to have interest and charges refunded. This has since been proven not to be the case.

  5. Carl Wright claimed at my induction meeting that the reason Egg had cancelled many thousands of their clients' cards in 2008 was because of the claims Cartel was making against them. I have since been advised that two pre 04/07 Egg card claims I've submitted are NOT flawed and the only possible outcome is a refund of interest and charges.

However, on the back of this claim re the dates and the blanket unenforceability, one of the sales tactics encouraged was to submit claims for all a client's cards, then put them into a debt management plan to reduce their outgoings while the claims were underway. As and when the claims succeeded, each card would be withdrawn from the debt management plan. We were advised that a successful claim would also result in the removal of any adverse information from a client's credit file.

(Editorial comment: This was subsequently held not to be the case - see above re the case of Phillip McGuffick v The Royal Bank of Scotland plc 6th October 2009 in which Mr Justice Flaux concluded, in the words of Eversheds Solicitors that:

" ... unenforceability does not mean that the rights of the parties under a credit agreement were never acquired or are extinguished. Rights under an agreement continue but cannot be enforced."
In fact, I stated exactly the same thing in my review of another totally unconnected claims management company called The Claims Warehouse in January 2009.

Because Mr. Justice Flaux also held that bringing legal proceeding is only a step taken with a view to enforcement and not actually enforcement the lender can still use the following methods to try to collect the debt from you even if it is an unenforceable debt:

- reporting or threatening to report information about the conduct of a credit agreement to a credit reference agency

- passing on, or threatening to pass on, personal data in respect of a credit agreement

- demanding payment from a debtor

- issuing a default notice

- threatening legal action

- bringing legal proceedings.

In December 2009 another case (Emma Carey v HSBC Bank plc) claimed by Carl Wright of Cartel Client Review to be "a major victory for consumers" which will "open the floodgates" was viewed rather differently by Money Saving Expert in their article headed "High Court 'closes debt write-off loophole'". and by the BBC in their article "Banks win partial High Court victory on credit cards".

In the Carey case, Judge Waksman concluded that banks can still enforce debts even if the original agreement has been lost or destroyed. He held that card companies need only provide a "reconstituted version of the executed agreement which may be from sources other than the actual signed agreement itself" provided that this is an "honest and accurate copy". The Carey judgement means that there is now little hope for the many cases where credit card and loan customers have tried to avoid repaying their debts simply on the basis that their lender cannot provide a valid copy of the actual original executed agreement. Such cases will now succeed only if the lender is unable to provide an "honest and accurate reconstituted copy". And even if the lender can't do that, they can still report you to credit reference agencies, demand payment, issue a default notice etc.)

I've also heard presenters at the regional meetings suggesting that agents encourage clients to take out car finance as it would be written off

Most of my clients are either existing clients or friends/relatives, or clients of colleagues who refer my other business. Sadly, I now feel that encouraging them to use Cartel Client Review has damaged my relationships with many of my clients and has certainly lost me one introducer.

I work alongside two master agents and am friends with three other normal agents, none of whom have experienced a single concluded case other than for PPI.

I have heard of agents earning £6000 plus per month in commissions, but also expending that in admin costs to deal with processing that volume of cases - obviously on the assumption of the 30% payouts which initially we were told would be around 6-8 months after submission of a case.

On the basis of my own experience, basically my advice to anyone considering this company would be to avoid. I am still registered with Cartel Client Review though so if you want to clarify anything or have any other questions, feel free to contact me.

Kind regards

Feedback 24th February 2010 from Harrison:

In my opinion, Cartel Client Review is an absolute disgrace in the way it advertises to claw in vulnerable clients to pay inflated up front fees & then do very little to action any potential claims, leaving people with high debt on their cards, with high interest payments each month & little chance of receiving any refunds when customers complain about their so-called "SERVICE".

I put in various claims at the end of Dec 2008 & paid £3,845.00 fees - for ex-mortgage, credit card & ex-car finance claims.

I was told to go & spend money on the cards & use all the credit - as they will be paid off ( luckily I put all the money in a savings account).

We had initial responses for 3 claims to say that there could be a potential claim - the last correspondence being in May 2009 & nothing since.

I have tried to contact Cartel by phone - but with no success at all , just an answer phone, with a message to say that they will call you back - NO SUCH LUCK.

I have also wrote to them to ask for a full refund & received a letter back to say basically no.

I feel so foolish for being taken in by this "Great Deal" (very misleading selling tactics) but then there are hundreds of clients in the same situation & no one in authority, such as the Ministry of Justice, seems to give a monkeys about companies like Cartel putting hard-working people under severe financial pressure.

In view of my own experience, I can only advise anyone not to use this company - as you may/could end up in a lot more financial trouble & potentially suicidal.


Feedback 24th February 2010 from Nobby:

I am a current customer of Cartel Client Review and I wish to corroborate some of the other comments on this topic.

In November 2008 I paid for ten cases to be dealt with by Cartel Client Review at £495 each. I took the advice of the rep and transferred money from what was termed a flexible loan account, which he said would be paid off, to my bank account and wrote a cheque for the fees. I had submitted more than ten agreements for underwriting however the ten put forward were more likely to be successful. I was informed the the whole process will take from 9 months to a year to complete. I am currently at 16 months.

Since that date not one of the claims has been successful. Two are deemed as complete by Consumer Credit Litigation Solicitors who have informed me that they cannot pursue the cases any further on the information provided. Therefore I am entitled to a refund. This refund is not forthcoming to the point where I have now complained to the Ministry of Justice.

Seven others are ongoing. One other is here on my desk as it has taken Cartel Client Review from Nov 2008 until now to establish that one of the agreements is in my wife's name. Something which I informed the representative about in February 2009.

You receive no communication from Cartel Client Review whatsoever. If you call the helpdesk for updates you are given a pre prepared statement stating they have had 'landmark cases recently'. You will get your refund letter soon etc etc. The most concerning from my point of view is that Cartel Client Review have resorted to claiming they cannot find the files for the refund cases.

The ' we cannot find the file' excuse has been well used by the credit companies to delay claims. Now it appears to have been adopted by Cartel Client Review in order to delay the refund of fees.

The business model is flawed. It can only be sustainable if the Solicitors win a considerable amount of cases. If they don't then most of the fees will have to be returned including the commission paid to the reps which I understand to be £150. The reps incidentally are not likely to fight your cause because they know they will have to refund commission money they have already spent.

So all in all this business is doomed to failure as legislation is tightened resulting in less and less success for Cartel Client Review despite their proclamations. The fees money will disappear and I like thousands of others will be left high and dry.

I seriously recommend that anyone who is thinking of embarking on this process to reconsider.


Feedback 2nd March 2010 from BeeJ:

After my business was unable to continue ( due to the lack of investment caused by the credit crunch) I was left with a few financial problems. I mentioned my business nightmare to a neighbour (very nice, solvent guy) and he told me about a very good friend of his getting some great results with the mistakes these banks and C/C co's had made. I was introduced to said guy, got the pitch; i.e. 'clear it six - nine months' , 'you can even put the arrangement fees on your creditcard',... 'and the best thing? If you're unsuccessful, Cartel pay you your money back!' I made some checks on the company.No bad reports - back then at least - a fairly large set-up who had defended itself on Watchdog. It all seemed credible.

N.B. Another main reason for eventually signing up was being told my claim was initially to be put through Cartel admin to validate its chances of success and if you scored badly, you are rejected there and then. In all, seven claims were under consideration. And within two weeks, four of the claims were confirmed viable. So i enthusiastically signed up (even after receiving a sketchy reply to one of my 'experienced businessman' questions'.)

Three months later - 'Administrative issues' resulted in me backing out of the last three claims as nothing had been done. By then alarm bells were ringing...It was clear, that this company was hoovering up as many people's deposits as possible without even having the admin structure to deal with things adequately - and all while employing more commission salesmen!

Six months after signing up I'm not getting any tangible info on my claims progression. I start making noises to my Cartel salesman.

Nine months later an outsourced firm of solicitors contact me to state they need certain info on my claims to judge whether they are viable or, didn't Cartel admin do this nine months ago??!!

Suddenly you realise this operation has been using desperate, stupid, greedy or just lied to people (take your pick) as cash cows. So without further ado, you WILL get a total communication run- around with up to 5 people stalling/ fobbing you off (including their solicitors) and they will do this as LONG AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE in an attempt to exhaust you! I estimate only 10% of people will get any money back at this stage as they simply do not want to pay you back.

15 months later - I've just received £175 back (one of my claims) and that took three months (almost on the nose) of rottweiler tenacity to get that back. We now know that courts have ruled banks are no longer paying back on charges so the card companies won't be anytime soon. And that means the arse has fallen out of Cartel's M.O.

So yes, it's ended up a sophisticated money-harvesting scheme and by the time I twigged I was already in their clutches. I understand there will be varying levels of sympathy for many who went with this - but remember, only 18 months the papers were full of reports of banks paying out for excessive charges so you can see why this company was able to gain ground.


Editorial reply to BeeJ:

I'm very sorry to hear about your experiences with Cartel Client Review.

I'll print your email with a few editorial amendments to the last para e.g. I have to remove the word "scam" because I don't have any evidence that it was operated with the knowledge that most people would not get their money back and/or most claims would fail. According to all his press statements, Carl Wright believes (or, at least, believed) that the legal case was very strong.

Our review of Cartel Client Review, as shown at the top of this web page, was previously only available for purchase (price £3) on the Members Only section of the site, and it was not published in full on the public section of the site until October 2009.

Our review nearly two years ago in May 2008 rated Cartel Client Review very poorly at only one out of ten, and pointed out the following concerns:

1. Carl Wright seemed to have deliberately avoided taking statutory responsibility for the company since as soon as the company became active in late 2007 (it had been dormant for the previous ten years) he resigned as director. In fact, he became a director again in June 2008, shortly after I sent him my letter with questions about the company (which the company says they never received).

2. Two companies in Carl Wright's previous group of financial services companies (also called Cartel) ended in compulsory liquidation.

3. Our review of Cartel Client Review makes the point that there is always a risk if you pay fees in advance. Even if you are told that your fees are refunded, there is no complete guarantee of this unless the refunds are either backed by insurance or the fees are kept in a separate client account so that the company cannot access them for operating expenses etc.

4. There were concerns that Cartel Client Review might be operating an illegal recruitment scheme for its agents. Although the legal position for the recruitment scheme for its Master Agents was subsequently regularised, it appears that the contracts for the recruitment of its agents still don't comply. (See above.)

It's a fact of life that the only way that the Business Opportunity Watch site can meet the two requirements of being a business (so it has to earn money somehow) and being unbiased (which means that there can't be any advertising or any commission links) is to ask people to pay for the reviews. We try to keep our prices low.

Best wishes


5. Update 16th March 2010 re Grass Roots Financial Ltd, Grass Roots Debt Solutions Ltd, Eric Webb, Sandra Webb

An ex-Cartel Client Review agent, whom I will call Lawnmower, wrote to tell me of the involvement with Cartel Client Review of a company called Grass Roots Financial Ltd which is owned by a Master Agent for Cartel Client Review called Eric Webb and his wife Sandra. Lawnmower tells me that Eric Webb is "a trusted member of Carl Wright's inner circle".

Grass Roots Financial Ltd has a web site at and is in the debt management business. offering debt management plans to members of the public who have financial difficulties.

Under the heading of Credit Card Claims on its home page, Grass Roots Financial says:

Are you currently making repayments on a credit card, loan or car finance? If you entered into a credit agreement with any bank or lender, it may be your legal entitlement to make a financial claim for compensation or indeed for the entire balance to be written off.

Oddly, what Grass Roots Financial Ltd doesn't say is that, following the clarification of the McGuffey case and the Carey case last year, credit card and loan balances can only be written off in exceptional circumstances.

Grass Roots Financial Ltd wants you to pay them £495 for a review of your credit card or loan debt, and they temptingly say that "You may be able to claim to have the balance written off in full due to the 'unenforceable' nature of the contract". Sadly, they don't make it clear that even in the very small percentage of cases where exceptional circumstances will apply so that your contract is deemed unenforceable, your credit rating is still likely to be ruined if you don't repay the debt.

Under the heading of Debt Management Plan on its home page, Grass Roots Financial says:

With a DMP (Debt Management Plan) or IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) from Grass Roots, you may be one affordable monthly payment away from watching your finances stabilise.

Grass Roots Financial doesn't see fit to mention that you can get free, independent advice and practical help from three major charities. These charities are funded by the credit industry, which enables them to offer unbiased and free advice to consumers.

- The first is the Consumer Credit Counselling Service at tel: 0800 138 1111. On their website you can complete a full counselling session online, which is free and confidential.

- The second is a charity called the Money Advice Trust at who run the National Debtline tel: 0808 808 4000.

- The third is a charity called the Debt Advice Foundation at They offer free, impartial support and advice to anyone worried about debt, whether as a business or as a consumer. They have a helpline at 0800 043 40 50.

And for businesses, there is Business Debtline,, tel. 0800 197 6026. This service offers free, confidential and independent advice and is funded by the DTI and seven UK banks.

Debtors can also seek advice from their local Citizens Advice Bureau.

In addition, purely as a comment on the debt management industry as a whole, it should be noted that setting up in business as a debt management advisor has not been helped by the adverse publicity given to the practices of some debt management companies who charge upfront and ongoing fees without improving a debtor's position. For example, arrangements marketed as "savings" on monthly payments may simply increase the size of the sum to be repaid and potentially affect the consumer's credit record (e.g. you end up paying more, and the only reason why your monthly payments are reduced is because you are paying this higher sum over a longer period of time).

The Office of Fair Trading has recently announced a review of the practices of debt management companies, on which they will publish a report this year.

Many debt management companies, like Grass Roots Financial / Grass Roots Debt Solutions, do not charge you a fee, but they earn their fees from the companies who supply the financial arrangements which they recommend that you transfer to. It is therefore not unreasonable to suppose that commercial debt management companies have a preference for arrangements which earn them a decent fee. That's why it's always sensible to consult a not-for-profit service (such as the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, Money Advice Trust or Citizens Advice Bureau) so that at least you have their advice for comparison purposes.

According to Lawnmower, Cartel Client Review uses Grass Roots Financial Ltd to provide debt management plans to its own customers. Cartel Client Review asked its agents to transfer their contracts to Grass Roots Financial Ltd when it had a dispute with the previous company Geo Financial Solutions Ltd which it had used to service its customers' Debt Management Plans. Geo Financial Solutions Ltd has never filed any accounts, is four months overdue for filing its annual return, and there is a proposal to strike it off from the register at Companies House.

Lawnmower refers to the ongoing problems of Cartel Client Review agents in obtaining commissions due to them, either from Cartel Client Review and/or from Grass Roots Financial Ltd.

Nevertheless, Grass Roots Financial (which made a loss of nearly £12,000 for the year to 31st March 2009 which resulted in a balance sheet deficit of nearly £12,000) seems to be gearing up for something, because in September 2009 it increased its nominal share capital from £100 to £1,000.

Grass Roots Financial is owned and run by its director, Eric Webb.

In addition to Grass Roots Financial, Eric Webb's current companies include Blue Domino Ltd and Exist Ltd (the nature of whose businesses is unknown because these details have not been filed at Companies House) and Grass Roots (Debt Solutions) Ltd.

Eric Webb has been the director of five other companies which have been dissolved (i.e. wound up in a normal fashion without outstanding debts). His earlier companies were in the wholesaling business, but the more recent ones - Mortgage & Finance Assessors Limited (dissolved in 2005) and Debt Assessors Ltd (dissolved in 2007) - have been in the finance business.

I've forwarded this update to Eric Webb to ask him if he would like to comment on it.


6. Feedback 19th March 2010 re Closure of Cartel Client Review

Dear BOW,

I have just read comments e-mailed to you from some of your members.

I also was an agent for Cartel Client Review. I spent £2680 on making 9 claims in October 2008. I heard virtually nothing either and for this reason I felt that I had no confidence in selling it anyone else.

You must be aware by now that Cartel Client Review was closed yesterday by the Ministry of Justice and they are totally uncontactable ( no web site, no phones etc.) and of course this is only a week after Consumer Credit Litigation Solicitors who wholly worked for CCR were also closed (apparently for irregularities).

I don't think that I have much more to add to all the previous comments that have been made, purely because my story runs along exactly the same lines as everyone else e.g. no contact, must check to see if there is a case, you will get your money back, your credit rating will be restored, buy a new car and get the money back .... that's when you start to think you are entering into cloud cuckoo land.

I even sent e-mails direct to Carl Wright himself asking for his help but no reply. Was this because he knew what was happening - why else would he ignore me?

I also share the opinion of one of your correspondents that this has been a scam, whether from the beginning or not I'm not so sure but as they got bigger and bigger they just got in deeper and deeper.

I feel ashamed as well that I could have been conned in this way - even though I didn't come into it to not pay my legitimate debts as mine started because of a massive dispute with my mortgage provider. I was subsequently told that I might as well challenge my car and credit card loans also.

That's it, I've vented my feelings for this morning, I do feel terribly sorry for all those other people out there (quoted it could be as many as 50-70,000) but at least I don't feel alone.



7. 17th June 2010 BOW Letter to Grass Roots (Financial) Ltd
Eric Fairweather, Carl Wright, Ralston Ferguson

We sent the following letter of enquiry to Grass Roots (Financial) Ltd:

Dear Sir or Madam,

Re: Carl Wright and Ralston Ferguson

I am the editor of an online magazine at which researches and reviews all kinds of home business opportunities, franchises, gambling, financial trading and other earnings and investment opportunities.

I published a review into a previous claims management company Cartel Client Review, which you can read at this link:

I'm trying to establish whether there is any connection between Grass Roots (Financial) Ltd and Cartel Client Review Ltd.

According to records at Companies House, your company has no secretary and only one director, Eric John Fairweather, who has 22 directorships in total and who was appointed on the resignation in April 2010 of Eric Edward Webb, who I understand was previously a key master agent for Cartel Client Review.

Although Eric John Fairweather wasn't a director of Cartel Client Review Ltd, he was a director of two of Carl Wright's previous companies which went into liquidation - Cartel Marketing Ltd and Cartel Group Holdings plc. Cartel Marketing Ltd went into liquidation on 8th October 2007. Eric Fairweather had resigned as a director of Cartel Marketing Ltd a few months beforehand, on 28th April 2007, although there was a delay before his resignation was filed on 4th August 2007. The group holding company, Cartel Group Holdings plc, only went into liquidation recently, on 21st May 2010, although it would seem that something had been amiss for a while since no accounts were filed for periods after 30th September 2008. Again, Eric Fairweather had resigned as a director of Cartel Group Holdings on 28th April 2007, with a delayed filing at Companies House on 4th August 2007.

I also noted that the Linekdin profile for Eric Fairweather describes his past as "Corporate Partner at Cartel Client Review Limited". There seems to be some mistake here, since clearly Eric Fairweather can't have been a "Corporate Partner" since he is a person and not a corporation. Notwithstanding, it's clear that Eric Fairweather has had a long business relationship with Carl Wright and his companies.

I have recently been told that the director of Cartel Client Review, Carl Wright, is now involved with Grass Roots (Financial) Ltd.

I am also told that Ralston Ferguson, the founder and director of another claims management company called The Claims Warehouse Ltd, is also now involved with Grass Roots (Financial) Ltd.

Could you please confirm whether this information is correct and can you throw any further light onto the connections between your company and Cartel Client Review?

Also, in view of the unhappy position that many customers of Cartel Client Review now find themselves in (i.e. having paid out money which they are unlikely to get back for a service which they never received) and in view of the fact that your company charges people nearly £1,000 to take up their case, can you offer any assurances to potential customers who may be nervous about being bitten twice?

It's clear that Eric Fairweather is a pillar of society, having previously been Head of Asset Finance for the Co-operative Group and currently a Parent Governor at Bolton School. So does your company, perhaps, put clients' fees in an escrow account so that they are kept securely to one side, legally ring-fenced, in case they need to be refunded, rather than being available for the company to use for payment of its own expenses etc?

Although I am not making the slightest suggestion that your company will be beset with the same problems that Cartel Client Review has had, this question of ring-fencing consumers' advance fees seems to me to be of crucial importance for three reasons:

1. Your website seems to me to overstate the likelihood that people can have their credit card balances written off. Your site says "Claim against a flawed agreement for compensation or to clear an unenforceable balance". However, following recent case-law, the ability to obtain compensation will only apply in a minority of cases. Also, even if a person's debt is ruled to be unenforceable, this will in most cases get them nowhere and they could actually end up worse off.

2. Sales people are by nature enthusiastic, and may sometimes over-egg the pudding. I noted that in your "Terms and Conditions for the Provision of Services" you have a clause which says as follows:

"You acknowledge that You have not relied on any statement, promise or representation made or given by or on Our behalf which is not set out in the Contract."

Very few people reading this sentence are likely to realise what it means, and certainly would not realise its draconian implications. This sentence is what is known as an Entire Agreement Clause. It means that any assurances and promises made elsewhere by the vendor are cut out in one fell swoop of the scythe and tossed aside from a legal viewpoint, so you can't hold the company to them. It doesn't matter whether these assurances and promises were made verbally by a sales rep, or on the company website, or even in a written and signed response to a specific question from a consumer: in signing the contract the legal position is that the consumer agrees that they are not holding the company to any of these promises.

Although defended by lawyers as being in the interests of both parties because it brings legal certainty to exactly what is being promised by the vendor, unfortunately this innocuous-appearing clause often catches out members of the public who are unaware that it's really a scythe that cuts away other claims and promises made by the vendor.

My view is that Entire Agreement clauses are very unfair to consumers because normally the only reason they make the purchase in the first place is because of the promises already made to them by sales representatives etc.

3. The third reason why it seems to me that ring-fencing is important is because your fees, at nearly £1,000, seem to be considerably higher than the fees charged by most other claims management companies.

I look forward to your further reply. If you have any questions in the meantime, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Yours faithfully
Marian Owen
Editor of Business Opportunity Watch

We never received any reply from Grass Roots (Financial) Ltd or Eric Fairweather or Ralston Ferguson or Carl Wright.

8. Update 1st July 2010 re The Claims Warehouse and Ralston Ferguson

Companies House records show that on 24th June 2010 the directors of The Claims Warehouse Ltd filed for the company to be voluntarily struck off, and the first notice in the Gazette is due to be published on 6th July.

The Claims Warehouse Ltd is the claims management company run by Ralston Ferguson, before he allegedly moved to Grass Roots Financial Ltd.

Normally, you can only voluntarily strike off a company if there are no creditors. So if there is anyone who believes that The Claims Warehouse owes them money then they can contact Companies House to object to the voluntary strike off.

Update 1st July 2010 Cartel Client Review Ltd in compulsory liquidation

According to a document filed at Companies House today, Cartel Client Review Ltd went into liquidation recently, on the petition of HM Customs and Excise.


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