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IFA is suing Countrywide on 3.5m pension liability

A Cambridgeshire IFA is suing giant estate agency Countrywide for 3.5m over pension misselling liabilities, with a judgment expected in the autumn.

Countrywide sold IFA firm Mandrake Associates in a management buyout in 1996 and an agreement was reached over the extent to which it would pay for Mandrake’s pension misselling liabilities.

That agreement is now under dispute and Mandrake has taken Countrywide to court in a bid to recover the funds. Countrywide has outlined the potential 3.5m liability in its half-year results.

The case had been scheduled for trial on July 8 but was delayed following the London bombings. It eventually went to court in mid-July and ran until the end of the month. High Court judges are on holiday but a verdict on the case is expected in early October.

Countrywide is the UK’s biggest estate agency firm with more than 700 estate agencies across the country. It owns Bairstow Eves and Mann Countrywide and is listed on the FTSE 250 index. It is expected to launch its own residential property fund next year to capitalise on Sipp interest.

Countrywide finance director Mike Nower says: “We sold Mandrake back to management in 1996, giving them an indemnity on pension misselling. It is the interpretation of that indemnity that we have disagreed on.”

A Mandrake spokesman says: “We eagerly await the outcome of the court case but cannot comment further until a judgment has been made.”

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