View more on these topics

Caught in the data act?

Equitable Life and the IFA embroiled in a storm over the release of 450,000 policyholders&#39 details have defended their actions.

But City lawyers and the former Data Protection Registrar, now called the Information Commission, believes the move breaks the Data Protection Act.

Equitable chief executive Chris Headdon says the company believed it was only supplying information to the members&#39 action group, not to Bristol IFA Whitechurch Securities.

Equitable says it is obliged to provide the information to members.

Equitable says that, under the rules governing mutuality, it is obliged to provide details of policyholders when they are requested by other policyholders.

Headdon says: “We sold the list to the action group. They passed it on to the IFA. We assumed it was because they wanted to do a survey.”

But City lawyers specialising in mutuality and data protection say that unless there is a clause specifically written into Equitable&#39s contract all-owing them to release a policyholder&#39s details, they would be falling foul of the act.

Three other mutual UK life offices also say there is nothing inherent about being a mutual which would force them to release policyholders&#39 details.

A Building Societies&#39 Association spokeswoman says that while the rules governing mutuality of their members are different than that of life offices, it is virtually unheard of for a member to have access to policyholder lists. She says such a provision does exist in societies&#39 constitutions but the restrictions are so many that it is never used.

The Information Commission says that, unless there is something specific in Equitable&#39s constitution which says otherwise, it would appear that the first principle of the act has been broken.

Information Commission compliance manager Margaret Mainwaring says: “If the company did not tell policyholders originally that they were going to release their details, it would be a breach of the first principle of the act. The key question is what was established at the beginning of the policy?” IFAs are angry that another IFA firm has approached their clients. They are especially upset that it involves Equitable Life, when it is difficult for anyone to advise on the best way forward, given the uncertainty surrounding the company&#39s collapse.

Lincolnshire IFA Cranwell Investments managing director Greville Price first raised the matter. He says: “This is complete nonsense. It goes against everything that I would have thought the Data Protection Act is designed to do. I find it very difficult to believe this is the case.”

Yorkshire IFA The Pension Partnership associate partner Kevin Anderson says: “My clients are saying, who are these people? Whitechurch seems to have appointed itself as the saviour of Equitable policyholders.

“It looks like an excuse to sell business. These policyholders are very vulnerable at the moment and it is not right for this company to be approaching them in this manner.”

Whitechurch Securities maintains it did not intend to approach IFAs&#39 clients.

Senior investment manager Warren Perry said last week: “We have approached clients of Equitable Life, not of o
ther IFAs. We are a commercial operation. This is a commercial decision.”

Recommended

Safe and sound

The internet is, above all, a mechanism for the dissemination and distribution of information. The internet allows information to flow both ways in a way that TV and paper-based information does not. Effective use of the internet allows not only the transmission of a message to the masses but it also allows the masses to […]

Alliance & Leicester – Extra Income Fund

Thursday, 8th February 2001.Type: Unit trust.Aim: Growth and income by investing in corporate bonds and other securities globally.Minimum investment: £3,000.Investment split: 100 per cent in corporate bonds and other securities globally.Isa link: Yes.Pep transfers: Yes.Charges: Initial – 4 per cent Pep transfers nil , annual 1 per cent.Commission: None.Tel: 0800 0686699.  

Edinburgh UK Tracker Fund falls with FTSE in 2000

Share values in the Edinburgh UK Tracker Trust, which tracks the performance of the FTSE All-Share Index, fell over 2000. The net asset value per share fell by 7.5 per cent to 266.95p from 288.71p while the FTSE Al-Share Index fell by 8 per cent. The share price fell by 14.8 per cent to 259.5p […]

The Daley Update

Artemis is to add a European growth fund to its unit trust range, taking its total number of funds to five. The fund is due to start on March 5. Front-end charge is 5.25 per cent. Annual management charge is 1.5 per cent. Initial commission is 3 per cent but there is no trail. New […]

Newsletter

News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up

Comments

    Leave a comment