Blackstone Chambers’ Dinah Rose QC is looking to launch a High Court action in a bid to force the Treasury to pay compensation to Equitable Life policyholders.
Rose, who is working with Bindmans head of public law Stephen Grosz, is acting for the Equitable Members Action Group (EMAG). The group will challenge the Treasury’s failure to pay compensation to its 21,000 Equitable Life policyholder members as was recommended by the Parliamentary Ombudsman Ann Abraham in July 2008.
When insurer Equitable Life faced collapse at the beginning of the decade it was forced to cut the pension pots amassed by its policyholders to stay afloat.
In her report the Ombudsman said Equitable Life had been forced to close to new business after a decade of “regulatory failure”. In January the chief secretary to the Treasury Yvette Cooper said the Government would only give compensation to policyholders who had “suffered a disproportionate impact”.
Bindmans and Rose are seeking a judicial review to enforce the Ombudsman’s recommendations that an independent tribunal be set up to calculate compensation to be paid to all policyholders.
Grosz said: “We’ve identified serious flaws in the Government’s response to the Ombudsman’s Equitable Life report. We’re asking the court to quash the response, forcing ministers to think again.”
Rose will challenge the Treasury’s reasoning for rejecting the Ombudsman’s recommendations and refusing to accept the findings that the collapse meant investors were entitled to compensation.
The group highlighted the delays in investigating the scandal and has asked the court to expedite the claim and set an early hearing.
The Treasury, which regularly instructs Slaughter and May, has until the end of the month to respond to the claim.