Further clarification regarding ITRA / ECC / M1 Legal

More consumers are advising that following the winding up of ITRA, they are being approached by European Consumer Claims (ECC) and are corresponding with M1 Legal.  These communications concern offers of continuing work said to have been started by ITRA.
As consumers paid ITRA and entered into a contract with that business and it is now the subject of liquidation and insolvency investigations, we advise that such approaches should be reported to the ITRA liquidator, Richard Long & Co., as they are likely to be unlawful – a breach of the Insolvency Act.
The contact details for ITRA liquidators Richard Long & Co are:
Richard Long & Co
Castlegate House
36 Castle Street
Hertford
SG14 1HH
Tel: 01992 503372
We are also being informed that there are denials by these businesses of  the circumstances surrounding ITRA and the relationships between ITRA, ECC and M1 Legal. For the sake of clarification –
ITRA was wound up after failing to provide promised timeshare relinquishment and claims services to consumers and subsequently for failing to refund consumers as ordered by the courts. ITRA had previously been named as a part of a major scam which resulted in the UK authorities shutting down seven connected businesses. The person identified as controlling ITRA was Andrew Cooper.
ECC was set up by Andrew Cooper, who is a director of the ‘UK ECC’ business. He was previously a director of two of the companies shut down by the UK authorities. Current contracts issued by ECC list a USA registered company as the provider of the services, which it has been confirmed has no employees and does not disclose ownership details. In addition, the US registration has a false Gibraltar address and the proxy director is a company previously registered in the Bahamas, which has since been struck off.
Whilst it has been pursuing some claims, Spanish registered M1 Legal was also set up by Andrew Cooper. One of the directors is also a director of the ‘Spanish arms’ of ITRA and the businesses shut down by the UK authorities.
The attempts at denials prompted us to provide information clarifying the facts, with links to some of the media coverage and documents that provide clear substantiation – that information is available on the following link ‘Why ECC is so upset with KwikChex’.

Advice regarding ECC (European Consumer Claims)

Incorporating information concerning ITRA (International Timeshare Refund Action), M1 Legal and Pinder Reaux. 

ECC association with closed down business ITRA 

The business describing itself as ‘ECC’ and offering relinquishment and claims services to timeshare owners is an offshoot of the business known most commonly as ‘ITRA’. 

It has been firmly established that 

  • ECC is under the same core ownership and control as was ITRA. 
  • Several of those working for ECC previously worked for ITRA. 
  • ECC previously shared offices with ITRA. 

With regard to ITRA, this business has been shut down following a winding up order made in the High Court in England after failing to refund consumers as ordered by the County Court. ITRA was the subject of several court actions by consumers who successfully took action over misrepresentations and breaches of contracts and the failure to provide the promised contract terminations and claims services. 

Prior to being closed down, ITRA was previously named by the UK authorities as playing a key part in a complex, multi-company, international network that deceived many consumers, resulting in losses of thousands of pounds in each case. ITRA’s role was to lure in consumers with promises of timeshare contract assistance – and then ‘switch-sell’ them into fraudulent holiday / lifestyle memberships. The UK authorities acted on these deceptions and closed down seven connected businesses in an attempt to protect consumers. 

ECC has already been the subject of consumer complaints and ongoing actions by consumers claiming misrepresentations have taken place. 

Misleading advertising  

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), ruled that ECC was guilty of misleading advertising and the report clearly demonstrated the close association ECC has had with ITRA – details of the ruling can be found on this link on the ASA website – https://www.asa.org.uk/rulings/european-claims-centre-llc-a16-334571.html  

Different entities and name changes 

‘ECC’ is used as a generic trading name. A UK company based primarily in Slough, UK is the primary trading entity and is named as European Consumer Claims Ltd. This company was previously named European Claims Centre Ltd. 

Another ECC entity – one that is used on contracts issued to consumers is registered in Washington State USA. This is currently named European Consumer Claims LLC and was previously also known as European Claims Centre (LLC).  

Further ECC entities are registered in Spain as European Claims Centre – SP Branch  SL and also European Consumers Claims SL 

Concerns over ECC contracts 

Contracts issued by ECC that consumers are asked to sign have stated that the agreement is with a US registered entity – originally named as European Claims Centre LLC and now as European Consumer Claims LLC. Enquiries with the US authorities have shown that  

  • Ownership of the company in terms of individuals / shareholders is intentionally not disclosed. 
  • It is stated that the business trades from Gibraltar – but an investigation by the Gibraltar authorities could find no tracer of the business there. (ITRA previously also falsely claimed to have a ‘head office in Gibraltar). 
  • The company named as ‘proxy director’ in US filings appears to have been previously registered in the Bahamas but has since been struck off. 

Despite enquiries being made of ECC, no evidence has been produced that this US registered ECC has actually itself been trading or actively providing the services promised to consumers. 

It is of concern that consumers are being asked to sign a contract with such a company. 

Ongoing legal disputes between consumers and ECC have been complicated by the use of the US registered ECC company. Despite the UK entity being the business that takes money from consumers and controls the day to day functions of ECC, including the offices, personnel and website, when disputes have arisen over misrepresentations, ECC has claimed that it is ECC in the US that is the provider of services and ECC UK is denying liability. 

Legal firms acting in partnership with ITRA and ECC 

Both ITRA and ECC have been acting in partnership with two law firms. 

M1 Legal – registered in Spain as Maxima 1 Legal SL. 

This business also previously used the ECC brand, being originally named European Claims Chambers. 

A director of the business is also named as being a director of several companies that were the Spanish offshoots of ITRA and those closed down by the UK authorities. 

Pinder Reaux solicitors – a regulated and registered UK solicitor firm. 

Pinder Reaux initially engaged with ITRA as their legal representative – attempting to defend them with regard to claims brought be consumers. The defences that we are aware of all failed, with judgements being awarded in favour of the consumers. 

Pinder Reaux are now said to be acting in a commercial partnership with ECC, pursuing timeshare claims.  

It should be noted that where M1 Legal and Pinder Reaux are engaged in legal services on behalf of consumers that contracts have actually been signed and monies paid by consumers to ITRA (now closed) and ECC. 

 

Consumers with concerns over ITRA and ECC 

Understandably, consumers have been concerned over the fact that ECC can be regarded as an offshoot of ITRA.  

A number of those entering into contracts with ECC have been attempting to cancel and seek refunds after discovering the history and connections. The cancellations have been contested by ECC and in some cases are now the subject of court claims by the consumers – which are also being contested by ECC and are ongoing. 

Some consumers that previously paid monies to ITRA have been approached by ECC and told that ECC is taking over ITRA cases. We would advise that any consumer being approached in this manner makes urgent contact with the liquidators of ITRA, Richard Long & Co., who will be pleased to receive proof of debt against ITRA – and also any information regarding the activities of ITRA and potentially associated matter such as the ECC approachesDocuments relating to this can be found here.

For consumers that have contracted with ECC directly and have concerns, it is essential that a proper evaluation of the circumstances of each case takes place.  This could for example, examine the following. 

  • What services have been promised by ECC? 
  • Given the information provided by the US authorities regarding the US registered ECC entity and the information provided by the Gibraltar authorities, can the validity of the contracts be challenged? 
  • What cancellation rights might apply in terms of the ECC contracts? 
  • What work has been undertaken by ECC since contracts were signed / payments made? 
  • What is the precise basis in law that will be used by ECC in any contract termination or claims made on behalf of their clients? 

 

For the sake of clarity and transparency 

The information above is provided by KwikChex Ltd., as a part of free services to consumers under the Timeshare Task Force initiative.  

  • This service has been vetted and approved by UK Trading Standards – the accreditation and verified consumer feedback can be viewed on the following link  – https://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/profile/kwikchex-ltd-t-as-timeshare-task-force/24358/  
  • KwikChex has helped resolve hundreds of cases and assist in recovering hundreds of thousands of pounds for consumers and the termination of contracts. This has all been achieved free of charge. 
  • KwikChex and KwikChex personnel have provided evidence used in civil and criminal cases and have acted as key witnesses in several cases. 
  • The Timeshare Task Force is funded by the Resort Development Organisation (RDO), the trade association for vacation ownership across Europe. 

We are always very pleased to answer any questions put to us – simply use the following link for all enquiries and free help with any concerns – https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/free-assistance/