IFAs are to have human rights for the first time as disciplinary procedures pass from the PIA to the financial services tribunal after N2, claims law firm ProAct Legal.
It says the Lord Chancellor's Department, which adm-inisters courts and tribunals, has directed that the tribunal must comply with the European Convention on Human Rights, giving IFAs all the safeguards that citizens have bef-ore other courts.
ProAct says IFAs will have the right to a fair hearing, disclosure of key documents and to challenge the FSA's evidence, unlike under the PIA's system. Critics had argued that the PIA procedure did not comply with the rules of natural justice.
IFAs will be able to challenge the case against them on procedural grounds as well as the case itself, which means the FSA will have to be sure of its case before taking proceedings.
The statutory framework of the regulatory system will also make it harder for the FSA and networks to enforce immediate suspensions of IFAs without compelling evidence.
ProAct principal Gareth Fatchett says: “The whole process gives IFAs an armoury of defences of fairness that they never had before. It means IFAs are in a position where they can be judged on an equal footing with their accuser.”
New Life Financial Plan-ning principal John Burnard says: “It is still early days and I would like to see the system in action.”