Slaughters prepares for FCA battle over insurance probe leaks

Slaughter and May has been instructed by a group of investors seeking compensation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), following leaked  inaccurate reports of an investigation into the insurance markets.

The prospect of a wide-ranging probe into the life insurance market, leaked to the Daily Telegraph last Friday (28 March), knocked about £2.4bn off the market value of the biggest insurers. Legal & General, Prudential and Aviva were all affected.

Early reports in the national newspaper followed an interview with the FCA’s director of supervision Clive Adamson who said the regulator was planning an inquiry into 30 million policies sold between the 1970s and 2000. He added that savers locked into unfair pensions and investments could be given a free exit or transferred to better deals. 

The FCA intends to instruct its own external lawyers to review the circumstance surrounding the leak after the Chancellor George Osborne said he was “profoundly concerned” by the behaviour of the city regulator

A spokesperson for the regulator said the board is yet to select a particular firm for appointment. 

It is thought that Clifford Chance is the front-runner to receive the lucrative mandate. The firm was appointed to the City  watchdog panel last April along with Ashurst, Hogan Lovells, DLA Piper, Eversheds, Macfarlanes and Pannone (2 April 2013).

In addition to being a key member of the regulator’s legal panel, the magic circle firm was recently drafted in by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to conduct an independent review into its own lending practices following accusations of mistreating its customers by entrepreneur Lawrence Tomlinson (26 November 2013).

Regulatory lawyer Carlos Conceicao, who led Clifford Chance’s advice on the RBS investigation alongside partner Kelwin Nicholls, already has close ties to the FCA. Prior to joining Clifford Chance, he co-headed the FSA’s wholesale group in enforcement between 2004 and 2006 (12 September 2006).