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Sipp provider faces 500 FOS claims

A law firm says it has submitted 500 claims to the Financial Ombudsman Service over an embattled Sipp provider.

Pressure has been increasing on Liberty Sipp over misselling allegations, with the latest round of cases valued at £18m.

Solicitors Anthony Philip James & Co allege Liberty Sipp failed to treat customers fairly by accepting a high volume of clients who were unsuitable for Sipp investments from an unregulated introducer.

APJ is seeking compensation to put their clients back into the position they would have been had they not moved out of their original pension schemes.

APJ says these cases issued to FOS are separate to the court cases previously issued against Liberty in May where it had found up to 700 investors who allege they have suffered significant losses as a result of unregulated pension investments through the provider.

In at least 30  individual cases which APJ says are still ongoing, investors allege Liberty Sipp was responsible for the misselling of Sipps between 2011 and 2013.

Also in May, Wixted & Co Solicitors issued a case in the Circuit Commercial Court in Bristol against Liberty Sipp.

There, a group of 27 investors is taking action against Liberty Sipp over allegations it was responsible for losses incurred from risky investments.

APJ solicitor Glyn Taylor says it appears the FOS has halted cases against Liberty Sipp, possibly due to ongoing court cases including Adams v Carey Pensions and a judicial review into another Sipp provider, Berkeley Berke.

APJ says it has already won two similar cases over Sipp responsibilities against trustees Guinness Mahon.

He adds: “The cases we have now submitted are almost identical to the Guinness Mahon cases which FOS has ruled on, involving Liberty accepting high volumes of clients from an unregulated introducer. We believe that if the FOS is making decisions on Guinness Mahon they have no argument to halt the Liberty Sipp cases.

“We’re pleased that initial indicators from the FOS suggest they are now considering the Liberty Sipp cases, prompting us to issue this significant number of cases. We’re hopeful we will now get decisions on Liberty Sipp cases from the FOS, helping us to gain the compensation for our clients that they deserve.”

In July Liberty Sipp reported a nearly 20 per cent increase in pre-tax profit in its latest annual results.

It has nearly £3bn of assets under management, reported pre-tax profit of £506,000 in 2017/18, a 19 per cent increase on the previous year.

Liberty Sipp administers 12,800 Sipps and works with 745 advice firms across the UK.

Liberty Sipp managing director John Fox says: “Another week, another misleading press release from a claims management company attacking the financial services industry.

“APJ in particular has form. Three months ago it claimed to be pursuing hundreds of claims against Liberty in the courts. That approach came to naught so it’s now bombarding the FOS.

“Such vigour says nothing about APJ’s case, which is false. But it speaks volumes about the motivating power of APJ’s fee structure.”

In its rebuttal a spokesman for APJ says: “We operate on a no win, no fee basis and our fees are in line with legal industry averages for these complex financial mis-selling cases.”

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Comments

There are 13 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Unregulated introducers, unregulated investments? And I suspect individual client greed. What could possibly go wrong?

  2. Do the solicitors / CMCs also go after the unregulated introducer(s) and also those behind the investments the investors put their money into?

    Surely, that’s where any real damage has been done?

    • If Liberty are innocent in all this then why have they not taken the owners/directors of ALL the failed unregulated investments through their books to court.

  3. Hope they’ve got deep pockets, certainly the pockets have been deepened with the easy fees from 500 clients

    • Paul, there are hundreds of investors that have lost most of their pension, I am in tow with 34 investors that have over 2 to 3 unregulated investments each through Liberty, ALL of them 100% are worth pennies. This is no coincidence.

  4. John Foxx, what dont you understand, APJ have been hired by the hundreds of Investors that have lost thousands of pounds of their pension money as you have been involved with unregulated introducers in fraud, resurrecting frozen pensions and allowing them to be re-invested in unregulated investments, also allowing these unregulated introducers to receive large commissions for every transfer through Liberty Sipp. The game is up now but you still deny any wrong doing and accuse everyone of spreading false information. Its in black and white what you have done and its actually involvement in defrauding honest investors. I cannot see how you can possibly survive this now that your fate has been sealed with the 500 claims sent to FOS. FOS will now be pressurised to be seen to be doing there job and will no doubt churn out upheld complaints by the bucket load. Well done once again to Gly and APJ as they are the only people actually doing something about this.

  5. I seem to recall that Liberty’s rebuttal of these accusations was/is that, as a provider, it doesn’t sell or advise on anything and thus cannot be held responsible for losses incurred as a result of poorly chosen investments.

    In response to this, someone quoted some text from the FCA rule book, going back a fair few years, stating pretty unequivocally that providers cannot excuse themselves from all and any responsibility on the grounds that they’re merely order takers.

    Assuming that APJ are aware of this and will cite it in their presentation to the FOS, one may suppose that their prospects of success are quite good.

    But, even if they do succeed, the level of compensation that the FOS is empowered to order is limited and, as usual, the question arises as to why the FSA/FCA failed to police its own rules.

    • Julian

      APJ have already obtained from the FOS 3 weeks ago 2 x provisional upheld complaints against Guiness Mahon for exactly same secenario. Ethical Forestry/Avacade

    • Yes the RPPD that is a copy of an old TCF paper from way back that sets out the responsibilities of product providers and distributors in the fair treatment of customers. This has finally been codified in the new rules PROD. Trustees of a SIPP also have a duty to ensure the assets are reasonable for the provision of retirement and death benefits so there ought to be some kind of due diligence.

  6. Good luck to all of the claimants and watch out for the viper hired legal snakes working for the providers who will go for any chink in their cases and exploit it. A slight delay in submitting claims within previously unknown time limits because of serious cancer treatment will not count as I know to my cost. More importantly, it means that I cannot contribute to the education of my grandchildren as I had hoped.

  7. Does anyone know if John Fox of Liberty SIPP is related to Raymond Fox of Avacade, the latter being a firm that the FCA has undertaken civil proceedings against in relation to promoting unregulated investments?

    Them having the same surname could just be a coincidence, but I would be interested to know.

  8. What I find disconcerting is that the unregulated introducers are introducing the clients to the CMCs and making a second tranche of ill gotten gains from the 30% charge that the CMCs take. Ultimately again it is the client being duped.

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