AROUND 850 pensioners of collapsed company Belling, victims of an alleged solicitor fraud, must wait longer than expected for a Law Society decision on whether they receive u2.25 million in compensation.

Their wait comes despite pressure from the High Court in their favour, a high degree of national newspaper interest and subsequent signs from the society it would make an immediate decision three weeks ago.

While the Law Society's compensation fund committee said it would make an instant decision after a March meeting, it transpires the decision was adjourned until 26 April, the date of its next meeting.

The society twice decided not to meet the u2.25 million compensation claim to pension fund trustee Law Debenture. The claim arose from alleged fraud of the Belling pension fund by bankrupt ex-solicitor Charles Deacon of Newcastle-under-Lyme.

The society's compensation committee then considered the claim a third time after a High Court judge granted Law Debenture leave to apply for judicial review of its decision.

Deacon and five other defendants will face trial later this year on SFO charges.

Chris Heaps, chair of the society's adjudication and appeals committee, says the delay is because “we had not concluded our discussions”.

However, Law Debenture understands it was because a committee member was abroad. A Law Debenture spokesman says: “It's causing problems in that members are concerned about the delay and want to know if they will be awarded any money.”

He adds: “It is frustrating, having been told by the Law Society at the third meeting that they would notify us the following week.”