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Lawyers for the pensions industry are closely watching a legal challenge to the Securities and Investments Board (SIB) this week to see how far their clients will be forced to take a lead on compensating the public.
The judicial review by the IFA Association, which represents independent financial advisers, and indemnity insurers LIBM, asserts that the SIB’s review of the pensions misselling scandal is onerous and illegal.
If the SIB review requirements were to stand, thousands of IFAs could be forced out of business.
This would have a serious knock-on effect to pension companies and their insurers because of the sheer scale of the likely compensation figure. This is thought to be
between £2-3 billion.
The judicial review, in which DJ Freeman is advising, has already raised doubts over the process by which IFAs and pension companies are forced to review all their pensions sales since 1988 and invite clients to apply for compensation.
If the review is successful, the SIB will have to go back to the drawing board.
The Personal Investment Authority guidelines, issued this month to almost 4,000 IFA members on the basis of the SIB requirements, are likely to be caught by the judicial review, say lawyers.
Paul Taylor, senior partner at Berrymans, says if the action is successful, “it could have a fundamental affect on the whole problem. On pension providers, it might mean they don’t have to comply with the worrying instructions from the SIB and the PIA. It might mean the SIB report has to be disregarded. The position of pension providers and their insurers will be strengthened.”
Currently, lawyers say the pension providers are already having difficulties meeting the requirements.
Their problems include being able to identify problem pensions, making effective notification to their insurers, and the fear of being unable to claim the cost of compensation back from uninsured IFAs.
Berrymans is among the leading pensions industry firms acting for companies, together with Reynolds Porter Chamberlain and Fishburn Boxer.
Berrymans has insurer clients for more than 20 pension providers, and is acting on behalf of three of the top PI insurers.