Phoenix has avoided paying more money to 22,000 with-profits customers following a decision in the High Court.
The “co-operative litigation” between the provider and the FSA focused on how a guaranteed annuity offered as part of a with-profits bond was calculated.
The ‘Freedom’ bond promised policyholders a guaranteed nominal capital sum which would pay towards a guaranteed level of annuity. If the capital sum was lower than the annuity, Phoenix would pay the difference.
The case was brought to clarify whether the nominal capital sum should include bonus payments. The FSA argued that it shouldn’t while Phoenix said it should. The court ruled in favour of Phoenix.
Mr Justice Andrew Smith said: “I uphold Phoenix ‘s interpretation of the Freedom Bond…to my mind there can be no real doubt about the proper interpretation of the Freedom Bond on the point in issue. It seems to me clear from the wording of the bond itself, given the nature of the instrument.”
An FSA spokesman says: “The FSA entered into ‘co-operative’ litigation with Phoenix Life Assurance in relation to an insurance policy sold by Pearl Assurance.
“We had been in discussions with Phoenix in relation to how this product operates and considered that there was sufficient uncertainty regarding the wording of the insurance policy contract to seek an authoritative decision from the court as to how the policy operates.
“The court has now made its decision.”