West Bromwich Building Society may be forced to write off an estimated #30 million in debts from mortgage borrowers whose homes were repossessed in the early 1990s property crash, it was claimed last night.
The House of Lords has made a landmark ruling against the building society in favour of a couple who - along with hundreds of others - took out one of its mortgages at the time.
Mark and Lynne Wilkinson had their home repossessed by West Bromwich in July 1989, but house prices had started to tumble and the building society waited 16 months before the property was sold.
In the meantime the couple, from Norfolk, left for another home owing West Bromwich #24,000.
Then 12 years later, when the Wilkinsons thought they had put the whole episode behind them, they received a letter from the building society demanding their outstanding debt.
"They have taken their case from the county court to the Court of Appeal and then to the House of Lords - the highest court in the land - to have the debt cancelled and the law turned in their favour.
It was finally decided on June 30 that West Bromwich was wrong to have demanded payment from the Wilkinsons more than 13 years after their repossessed home was sold.
Their lawyer Stephen Murrell believes the judgment has finally brought justice for mortgage borrowers hit by the property crash more than a decade ago.
He said: "We think there are, at least, 1,000 cases like this linked to West Bromwich Building Society and thousands of others linked to other building societies across the country."
A spokesman from West Bromwich Building Society denied that the firm would have to write off #30 million in debts from mortgage owners.
He said: "This decision prevents the Society from protecting the interests of its members in certain instances by placing further restrictions on the period allowed to pursue those who fail to meet their financial obligations."