Law Society may step in on pension probe actions

THE LAW Society wants to hear from all solicitors who are instructed by victims of mis-sold personal pension products, to decide whether it should involve its multi-party action co-ordination service.

Edwina Dunn, head of information services and in charge of the co-ordination service, says the society will, at the very least, help to provide information to firms involved by putting them in touch with the five-firm pensions action steering group, headed by Bristol law firm Ringrose Wharton.

“We are simply asking any firms with instructions on this matter to contact us so we can measure the level of activity. I'm really just fact-finding at the moment,” says Dunn.

The society's co-ordination service normally deals with actions involving more than 10 firms, she says.

That limit could well be exceeded soon. The steering group is seeking other firms around the country in order to achieve greater geographic coverage and has been approached by around 10 other firms, although only two of these appear to have active instructions, says partner Robert Wharton of Ringrose Wharton.

The committee is now preparing for action following a meeting last week.

“We have taken a policy decision that we are going to start issuing proceedings, as we have had unconstructive responses from defendants, in particular from the life companies,” says Wharton.

The need for litigation intensified when independent financial advisers won leave for judicial review of the Securities and Investments Board guidance, which tried to force them to review all clients for possible compensation claims.

“If an IFA is not obliged to review his files pending outcome of the judicial review, this could mean that some victims' claims may run out of time,” Wharton warns.

One of the committee lawyers, Philip Ryley of Wolferstans in Plymouth, has already begun actions.