MCOB applies to regulated mortgage contracts entered into on or after 31 October 2004. Variations made on or after that date to contracts entered into before that date are not subject to FSA regulation but may be subject to the Consumer Credit Act 1974. AUTH App 4.4.13 G contains guidance on the variation of contracts entered into before 31 October 2004.1
If, notwithstanding the steps taken by a firm to comply with MCOB 1.6.3 R, it transpires that a mortgage which the firm has treated as unregulated is in fact a regulated mortgage contract, the firm must as soon as practicable after the correct status of the mortgage has been established:
(where relevant) a statement that the Consumer Credit Act 1974 will not apply to the mortgage contract and that any Consumer Credit Act rights or requirements set out in previous communications will not apply;
MCOB 1.6.4 R(2) means, for example, that if a firm discovered immediately after completion that a loan was a regulated mortgage contract, the firm would be required to comply with MCOB 7.4 (Disclosure at the start of the contract).
Although MCOB 1.6.4 R recognises that firms may become aware that a mortgage is a regulated mortgage contract at a late stage, the FSA expects this to be an extremely rare occurrence. It could arise, for example, if a firm has acted on the understanding, verified as far as was practicable, that in respect of a particular mortgage contract less than 40% of the land would be used in connection with a dwelling. If it was discovered later that more than 40% of the land was used in connection with the dwelling (and provided that all the other legal requirements were met) the mortgage will be a regulated mortgage contract to which MCOB applies.
MCOB 1.6.3 R and MCOB 1.6.4 R do not override the application of MCOB to any regulated mortgage contract. MCOB applies notwithstanding a firm's genuine belief that a mortgage is unregulated. In deciding whether to take disciplinary action as a result of a breach of MCOB, the FSA will take into account whether the action by the firm was reckless or deliberate (see ENF 11.4.1 G(1)(a)).