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Can I change my Trustee during a Trust Deed Arrangement if I am unhappy with them

Reviewed 30th April 2024

A Scottish trust deed is a formal arrangement to repay creditors a proportion of their debt, and typically lasts for four years. The process is administered and overseen by a licensed insolvency practitioner (IP), known as the trustee.

During the trust deed term the trustee is required to make various decisions regarding the arrangement, and is closely involved at all stages. If your circumstances worsen, for example, you would inform the trustee so they could potentially renegotiate for a lower repayment amount.

One of the major advantages of taking out a trust deed is that we can help stop the phone calls and letters from those you owe money to. At Scotland Debt Solutions we will take responsibility for liaising with your creditors and letting them you that you have entered into a trust deed, and that all further communication regarding your debt must go through us.

In many cases this arrangement works well, and any issues are dealt with by the trustee with few problems. But what happens if you’re unhappy with your trustee during the trust deed term – are there any formal avenues for complaint, and could you change your trustee if necessary?

David Tannock

David Tannock

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How can I make a complaint to the trustee?

Initially you should talk to the trustee and make your complaint as it may be possible to resolve it quickly. Whether it’s a specific action that’s brought about the complaint, or you’re not happy with the trustee’s general approach, it’s a good idea to make a few notes before you speak to them so you can get your point across clearly.

Once you’ve spoken to the trustee don’t forget to follow up with a written explanation of the issue(s). Send the letter by recorded delivery, and keep a copy in case the problem isn’t resolved and you need to take it further.

Although you may not feel like talking to the trustee directly, your ability to take the matter further relies on the fact that you’ve attempted to resolve the issue by speaking to them.

How to complain to the trustee’s regulatory body?

If the trustee hasn’t rectified the situation to your satisfaction, you can take your complaint to their regulatory body. Independent Recognised Professional Bodies, or RPBs, authorise their members to act as insolvency practitioners and undertake regular monitoring.

The professional bodies themselves are regulated by the Secretary of State, so an additional layer of accountability is in place to ensure the IP members meet requirements and standards in terms of training, qualifications, and experience.

Contacting your trustee’s professional body, therefore, is the natural next step. You can do so online via the gov.uk website, or by letter. If you don’t know to which body they’re affiliated, the details will be displayed on the formal documentation issued during the course of entering your trust deed.

Can you change your trustee?

If your complaint is upheld by the trustee’s professional body, a number of outcomes are possible including having their license withdrawn. This would require the appointment of a new trustee. If the complaint isn’t upheld by the Recognised Professional Body, you may be able to use their independent complaints review process if there’s one in place.

How can I complain to the Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB)?

The Accountant in Bankruptcy is the government agency that regulates and audits insolvency processes in Scotland. Although they may not be able to change your trustee, they do have the power to overturn a trustee’s decision when they think it is appropriate.

You can complain in person or in writing to the AiB, and again, you should set out your complaint clearly to ensure the circumstances and reasons are fully understood, backing it up with documentary evidence if possible.

Can I apply to the courts?

Similarly, you can apply to the Scottish court to reverse or overturn a decision made by a trustee. It’s crucial to obtain professional advice prior to making an application, however, and ensure you’ve followed the correct procedures leading up to that point.

Changing your trustee if you’re not happy

If you’ve made your complaint through the channels above, in certain circumstances you may be able to change your trustee. If serious misconduct has occurred, for example, or your trustee has not upheld the standards and requirements of their position it’s possible that their license will be revoked by the professional body concerned.

Scotland Debt Solutions has been helping Scottish residents to escape debt since 1989, and can advise on the best way to proceed if you’ve entered a Scottish trust deed and are unhappy with your trustee.

Please contact one of our partner-led team to arrange a free same-day consultation. We work from offices around Scotland, and can provide the reliable independent advice you need.

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