The stranger in the pack



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Of all the types of loan possession cases that the judges have to deal with on a regular basis, bridging loans are among the rarest....

Of all the types of loan possession cases that the judges have to deal with on a regular basis, bridging loans are among the rarest. Top of the heap are straightforward mortgage possessions, followed by 'all monies due' charges and then, some distance away, are bridging loan cases. The reason for this is pretty obvious – from the courts' point of view, the proportion of people who take out bridging loans is minuscule when compared with those who take out ordinary mortgages.

Why should this be important? Well, mortgage possession cases are listed pretty aggressively because of the sheer number that have to be heard within a strict time limit – not more than eight weeks from date of issue. It is not unusual for no more than 10 minutes to be allowed for each hearing. Bridging loans, as well as the less rare 'all monies due' charges are 'plonked' into the middle of a list which consists of the more usual ordinary mortgage possessions.

The risk that is run is that the judge, on seeing the proceedings while in the middle of his/her busy list, may assume that it is an ordinary possession case and start applying a wider discretion to the borrower than might otherwise be available. There is not anything on the court papers which loudly signposts that this is one of the fairly uncommon bridging loan cases. It is up to the judge to look at the papers carefully to make sure that he/she knows exactly what kind of loan they are dealing with or, if for some reason that fails, for the lender's legal representative to point out to the judge the exact nature of the loan the is being considered.

In fact, I recall a case that had slipped in the middle of a busy ordinary mortgage list. Perhaps distracted by the sheer number of cases I had to deal with, I ventured that the borrower's offer to pay the loan off in 3 years seemed reasonable, that is until the lender's solicitor informed me that it was in fact a bridging loan. Without missing a beat, I said, "Of course I meant three months!"

In my experience, if we got one bridging loan case a month that was a lot. Like a delicate and rare bird, it needed particularly careful and special attention. Ordinary or run-of-the-mill they were not!

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