Crestfallen at investor news

I am concerned that your article "Teething troubles expected as City switches to Crest dealing" (The Lawyer 16 July) stated that Crest will deprive investors of voting rights or force them into nominees. This is simply not true.

First, it is crucial to appreciate that the system is a voluntary one and that the large majority of private investors will remain in certificated form, quite unaffected by the changes in the settlement system.

Second, Crest widens choice by creating the new option of sponsored membership. Sponsored members can participate directly in Crest and benefit from the faster, cheaper and safer settlement the system offers. But they avoid the cost of having their own interface to Crest by appointing a sponsor (normally a broker) to input instructions on their behalf.

We have taken great comfort from the market's healthy response to the great potential of sponsored membership, which we designed specifically with the promotion of private investors and the protection of their interests in mind.

Because sponsored members have their name on the register, their relationship with the companies in which they invest is identical to a certified investor. Your article was therefore quite wrong to state that "there will be no right of access" to AGMs for Crest shareholders.

Mark Kirby

Head of Legal Affairs