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A STEERING committee of three law firms, set up for victims of bad pensions transfer and opt out advice, is on the verge of launching legal action against the insurance industry.
The committee, which meets for the first time this week, will also receive instructions from the GMB trade union, a number of whose 820,743 members were allegedly mis-sold personal pensions.
Bristol firm Ringrose Wharton, Wolferstans of Plymouth and J Keith Park & Co of St Helens are pooling resources and information on what could be thousands of cases arising since the Securities and Investments Board (SIB) report criticised the industry in October.
Robert Wharton, partner in the niche financial services firm Ringrose Wharton, says: "It is important that all firms acting for claimants take a unified approach to the insurance industry.
"My past experience has shown how willing insurance companies are to use their money and power to overwhelm individuals."
Ringrose Wharton is poised to issue proceedings against at least one insurer, Crown Life, and has reported Equitable Life, LACS Britannia and Crown Life to regulator Lautro, because the lawyers say the organisations are apparently ignoring correspondence.
The firms currently have up to 500 claimants but expect many more and hope other firms will join them.
The SIB report says as much as u2 billion in compensation could be owed to people who were mis-sold pensions.
It estimates there are some 250,000 people who are particularly high priority because of age and because their original date of purchase could soon eliminate them from the standard six-year time limit imposed for litigation.
Ringrose Wharton calculates that another 12,500 people, apparently considered ineligible by the SIB, will in fact prove to be eligible.
These potential claimants will have been advised before the introduction of the Financial Services Act 1986 (FSA) on 29 April 1988, but actually purchased a pension after the FSA was in force. They would, therefore, come under the protection of the FSA, and so be eligible for compensation under it.