It has been a year since judgement was reserved on the matter of Russell Adams v Carey Pensions (UK) LLP, High Court (Ch).
In March last year, a case was brought to the High Court by Mr Adams, a lorry driver who had been persuaded to invest his pension savings into storage pods by an individual who he considered to be a financial adviser. Mr Adams had been convinced to transfer his pension into a ‘self-invested personal pension’, or ‘SIPP’.
Self-invested personal pensions, like the one Mr Adams entered into, allow investors to choose what their pension funds are invested in, giving them freedom to invest where they like and in what they like, including products with a higher risk. Click here to read more about SIPPS.
In fact, the ‘financial adviser’ turned out to be an unregulated ‘introducer’ and was not allowed to give financial advice. The storage pods that Mr Adams had invested in were an unregulated, non-mainstream investment product; not a suitable investment for Mr Adams’ pension. Mr Adams is one of many individuals who, believing that they have received financial advice from a regulated financial adviser, have transferred their pension monies into non-mainstream and risky investment products that are not suitable.
In the case brought to the High Court last year, Mr Adams claimed that the SIPP Provider, Carey Pensions, had had failed to act in his best interests by not conducting due diligence on the investment and accepting work brought about by an unregulated introducer, in breach of the regulations (section 27 Financial Services and Markets Act 2000).
How did this happen?
The SIPP provider, Carey Pensions, accepted the instruction on Mr Adams’ behalf. Mr Adams’ lawyers claim that Carey Pensions used a Spain-based unregulated introducer.
One question, to be determined by the Court, is the extent to which Carey should have made sure that Mr Adams’ application to invest in the unregulated storage pod investment had come as a consequence of regulated financial advice and whether they should have checked that the investment was suitable.
Carey Pensions claim that they were not aware, having carried out sufficient due diligence, that the third-party (the introducer) was acting in breach of Section 19 of the Financial Service and Markets Act 2000.
What happens next?
The judgement, when it does come out, may well have a significant impact upon the liability and responsibilities of pension providers, particularly in relation to ‘self-invested personal pensions’ or SIPPs.
On the anniversary of the trial, the practice of unregulated introducers providing financial advice in relation to pensions, investments, and mortgages is still very much rife, causing people to suffer financial losses with no recourse to Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Whether these individuals can look to find recourse from the pension providers, and the extent to this recourse, will be determined when the Judgment is handed down.
If you feel you have suffered losses as a result of financial advice or feel you may have received advice from someone not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, contact us today.