Mr Justice Miles (Bob, down the pub) isn’t one of those bewigged benchers prone to overblown rhetoric. You’ll find no “egregious behaviour”, “outlandish barbarism” or “disgraceful dishonesty” in his judgments at the High Court.
But his application of black Temple shoeleather to the backside of Amigo Loans left little doubt as to what he thought.
Amigo had been trying to get his approval to palm off thousands of its mis-selling victims with just 10p in the pound of their compensation dues.
Miles’s response, with the help of the Financial Conduct Authority: not so fast, amigo.
Highlighting that Amigo’s customers are some of the most vulnerable, skint and financially unsophisticated in the country, he has ruled that it is entirely wrong that they should bear the brunt of the punishment for Amigo’s wrongdoing and not its shareholders.
How right he is. Amigo’s mistreated customers should come above shareholders in the creditor pecking order. They should be among the last to take the pain, not the first.
If that means sacrificing some of the share price gains the company’s dirty deal had triggered, so be it.
Amigo has claimed it will go bust unless its victims take up the current offer. Really? Even after the shares fell today, it’s still worth £45 million. Justice Miles and the FCA are right to call its bluff.
Let the directors go away and come back with a fairer offer.
Provident Financial and others mulling how to treat their missold clients, pay heed.
(This article first appeared in Tuesday’s Evening Standard newspaper)