A group of Equitable Life policyholders is taking its case for compensation from the troubled insurer to the High Court after disagreeing as to whether they have an agreement or not on the basis of confidentiality.
Lawyer Robert Morfee, a partner at Bristol law firm Clarke Willmott, is representing four parties in the move. He says that while Clarke Willmott thought it had reached an agreement with Equitable's lawyers on the action, the company is now asking for a “very tight” confidentiality agreement which he is resisting, saying he wants enough freedom to advise existing and new clients on the issue.
As a result, Morfee says he intends to put the matter to a High Court judge, hoping to have the case heard in Bristol this month.
The policyholders Morfee represents held an array of policies with Equitable and all left before the compensation scheme of 2002 was implemented.
Morfee says the situation is unusual as normally when a deal is done, both parties understand what that deal is. However, he says there is a question over “whether there is a done deal or not”.
Equitable Life was unavailable for comment.
The move comes at the same time as the Equitable Late Contributors' Action Group is formed to campaign on behalf of late contributors and joiners who lost money.
Morfee says: “There is huge public interest in Equitable and its behaviour. I am resistant to the notion that the consequences of its behaviour should be hidden from public review.”