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Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
Were the flats in your own name or a limited company name please?
Sorry for the delay in reverting to you. I had to disappear for supper.
May I continue to assist you with the above?
The position begins with the provisions of your mortage deed that you signed. Commerical and non residential mortgages are unregulated and accordingly provide for much more favourable terms for the lender than residential mortgages that for example may be obtained for ones primary home.
They may include provisions that allow a lender to appoint a receiver to manage and sell the property in the event that you fall more than a certain amount into arrears, or provide that you give the bank power of attorney in respect to all matters relating to the property which can be exercised by the bank in certain events, such as if you fall into arrears, or become bankrupt and so on. The first step is to examine a copy of the mortgage deed to see what powers you granted them. As this is a non residential mortgage you will likely find that you have granted them one or both of the above and other provisions as well.
Therefore whilst it is important to confirm, the liklihood is that the bank had legal authority to do as they did however it does not follow that the would necessarily not be liable to you for doing so because they are obligated to act subject to the common law requirement that they should mitigate their losses and generally act reasonably in respect of any debts they claim and in respect of your property.
The major difficulty I see however is the amount of time that has gone by since the sales. From what you say these happend in or around 1997. The Limitation Act provides that there is a limitation period of 6 years for pursuing contractual claims, 12 years for pursuing debts under a deed and an overall limit of 15 years for pursuing claims of negligence. By all of these tests you would appear to be out of time and I cannot see how you could pursue a civil claim against the bank at this stage as a result.
The only approach I can see as being available to you is a complaint under the criminal law whereby you ask Trading Standards or the SFO to investigate whether the bank committed fraud. However even then it is not clear to me that you would derive any pecuiary compensation from such an investigation as compensation claims would normally have to be brought about in the civil courts as above
Contact with the bank initially in the form of a complaint is likely to be the first initial step though any expectation for compensation given the above limitation periods should I suggest be kept firmly under control. The Financial Ombudsman will be bound by the limitation periods above in respect of any complaint you refer to them.
Is there anything above I can clarify for you?