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.”