Lawyers slam claims firm over ‘adviser watch list’

Regulatory lawyers have attacked a claims firm for publishing an adviser ‘watch list’ of firms it says consumers should be wary of.

Claims firm Rebus has launched an online ‘adviser watch list’ of firms it is bringing claims against, stating either ‘case won’ or ‘under Rebus review’ next to the firm.

The website says: “The adviser watch list is Rebus’ mechanism for allowing investors to be better informed.

“We stress that just because we are investigating misselling does not mean that there has been misselling.

“We do this not out of self interest but in the belief that this is the role that the FCA should be performing.”

DWF Fishburns partner Harriet Quiney says: “It is clear this is pure self-interest by Rebus so its claim otherwise really sticks in the throat.

“There is no need for this service, given the Financial Ombudsman Service publishes complaint figures which allows customers to judge which firms have a poor complaint record.

“But Rebus’ list could include companies which have had just one complaint in the last 10 years, which could give an entirely false impression of the firm.”

Foot Anstey partner Peter Singfield says: “Anyone publishing a watch list of this nature has to be very careful from a defamation perspective.

“Complaints happen against even the very best firms, and do not always point to wider non-compliance.

“If a watch list is surrounded by wording that suggests there is some wider ongoing wrongdoing or non-compliance, that can unfairly damage the reputation of those on the list, and be difficult to justify.”

Rebus head of client relations Martin Taylor says: “This is about consumer protection. Any firm on the list that feels it is there unreasonably is free to contact us.”

Highclere Financial Services partner Alan Lakey says: “This is not meaningful for consumers but a way of gaining publicity. The implication is consumers need to be cautious about using these firms.”


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There are 3 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Does the website contain similar advice for the consumer in relation to the number of claims Rebus have submitted that were either lost or determined to be spurious and lacking in detail?

  2. Surely this falls into the same category as bad builders etc – you can’t keep such a list as it is discriminatory, etc, let alone potentially defamatory either by fact or innuendo.

    The firm should be very careful if nothing else and I wonder if it or other claims’ firms are ever in breach of the Financial Regulator’s rules too in:-

    Rebus works with Family Offices, Wealth Managers, Investment Managers and Specialist advisers as well as traditional financial advisers to help your clients to determine the most pragmatic course of action to mitigate their exposure to tax avoidance schemes and other tax related investments, which have not performed as they were promoted.
    We can help in the following ways;
    Help the investor to understand what issues may lie ahead by referencing our detailed archive of product information and having one of our highly experienced team, conduct a review of the best and worst case outcomes.
    Determine how best to manage those future issues and whether positive action is needed
    Execute actions ranging from regulatory related negligence claims through to legal action which can be managed in conjunction with yourself.
    Rebus has a wealth of experience of assisting clients across a range of different financial products including;
    Tax avoidance schemes of all descriptions
    Failed investment structures (i.e. offshore bonds)
    Discounted gift schemes
    We also cover more bespoke investments, such as structured products, typically promoted by the private banks in the mid/late 2000’s.
    Our team of specialists includes legal, accountancy, regulatory, product developers and advisers who have previously helped to design or promote these types of products. In fact this multi talented, highly experienced team of people is what separates Rebus from any other service provider operating in the same space.
    If you think Rebus might be an answer for one of your clients, we would suggest;
    An initial discussion, to understand your business and how we can help, after all, these are your clients.
    Focusing on the clients concerns and determining whether there are any impediments to assisting i.e. statutory limitation issues, target identification and the basis of any claim.
    Thereafter, we have a number of models for partner engagement. You can have as little or as much involvement in the process as you choose.

    How can you advise on miss-selling unless you ‘know’ whether or not the product was right or wrong for the circumstances – an interesting conundrum!

  3. Oh dear, this is rather depressing isn’t it. A quick look at the Rebus website … and a Richard Rhys who has financial services experience and used to be in the “rat race”, is this the same Richard Rhys on the FCA register that is noted as banned for UCIS sales that he didn’t understand or a different Richard Rhys?…. oh for the joys of accurate information.

    Whilst it should be obvious that investors should be compensated when the advice process has failed, clearly it is an entirely different proposition putting firms on a watch list and essentially “ambulance chasing”. I guess its a sad reflection on our industry that firms like Rebus even exist… so there’s probably an element of reap as you sow…

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