Tribunal slams Equitable Life trio

The Equitable Life saga continued last week (2 March) with a stunning disciplinary sentence for three former executives.

A former director for the insurance group was expelled from The Institute of Actuaries while two other senior figures were reprimanded after a tribunal found them in breach of its rules.

Former director Alan Nash and chief executive Christopher Headdon were admonished by the Institute after a tribunal panel found them guilty of misconduct that led to mis-management.

Former managing director and actuary Roy Ranson was expelled from the Institute for breach of its standard of integrity, competence and professional rules.

The men were not charged with a penalty by the panel but noted the Financial Services Authority had already taken the decision to prevent Headdon from holding any position that requires FSA approval until 2010.

The tribunal hearing had initially been listed to take place in 2004 but was stayed on 14 October 2004 after Ranson, Headdon and Nash applied to the High Court for a Judicial Review requesting a stay until after their civil litigation with Equitable had been concluded.

The disciplinary tribunal resumed in Spring last year with the hearing finally taking place in November and December last year over a four-week period.

The tribunal sent its determinations to the respondents on 30 January this year and had 28 days to appeal though applications were never made, which means the tribunals decision is final.

During the tribunal hearing, Headdon and Nash presented their own arguments, while Ranson submitted written evidence and did not attend.

Equitable Life, itself, crumbled in 2000 after one million UK and 15,000 other EU resident policyholders lost money in pensions, savings or investments.

Equitable subsequently launched a giant £2.6bn negligence claim against former auditors Ernst & Young (E&Y) in 2001 though the Society dropped the claim footing a £40m bill.

Barlow Lyde & Gilbert’s head of litigation Clare Canning lead the defence for E&Y during the civil litigation. She instructed Mark Hapgood QC of Brick Court chambers.

Acting for Equitable at the time was Herbert Smith and Iain Milligan QC of 20 Essex Street.