Is HT Legal able to help me?
If you transferred your pension (final salary or personal) or opened a SIPP (Self Invested Personal Pension) in the last ten years, or invested in high risk, non-standard investments, HT Legal may be able to help you.
What is a high risk, non-standard investment?
It is an investment that cannot easily or quickly be sold and turned into cash. It could include overseas hotel rooms, interests in farmland and forestry, self-storage units, shares and bonds in unquoted companies, plots in land-banking schemes, overseas car park spaces and many others. In fact, it is any investment other than those which can be readily bought and sold.
Is there anything wrong with non-standard investments?
Whatever you may have been told, almost all non-standard investments are high-risk. Unless you are quite wealthy, acquiring non-standard investments as a way of saving for your retirement is likely to be unwise. Additionally, many of the non-standard investments acquired through SIPPs/ SSAS’s have not performed as promised, often failing altogether.
Why am I entitled to compensation?
The FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) regulated both the SIPP / SSAS operators and the Financial Advisers (FAs) that may have advised you on your investment. If a Financial Adviser advised you, then they may have been in breach of FCA rules. In a similar way the investment operators may also have broken FCA rules. In the year 2000 Parliament created special bodies through which victims of bad practice by Financial Advisers and investment operators can obtain compensation. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) and the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) are the bodies responsible for making judgements in relation to payments for compensation.
What could my Financial Adviser have done wrong?
It is possible that your financial adviser advised you to open your SIPP and to transfer existing pension capital into it without properly assessing whether a SIPP was suitable for you. Often little or no analysis of the true risk of investing in the products within your SIPP was completed. In addition communication of the actual level of risk within the underlying investment products was often not disclosed to clients.
What could my SIPP / SSAS operator have done wrong?
A SIPP provider is a regulated entity. It acts as a Trustee to your pension capital. As such it has a duty to ensure that all products that it permits to be held within its contract are appropriate for the investors using its SIPP / SSAS. In many cases the investment operator undertook little or no due diligence to ascertain the suitability of such products.
Was criminality involved?
Some providers of non-standard investments may have acted criminally and it is possible that some Financial Advisers also did so. HT Legal will report any suspicion of criminality to the appropriate authority. But HT Legal primary focuses are on the civil claims you have against regulated entities, especially Financial Advisers and SIPP operators.
Who will analyse and decide whether I am entitled to compensation?
Depending on the precise nature of the claim, the Financial Ombudsman Service, and the Pensions Ombudsman will judge the claim’s merits. However, if the relevant Financial Adviser or SIPP operator has gone out of business, the claim will pass to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
How is the compensation calculated?
The principle for determining compensation is the difference between what your previous pension funds would not be worth if you had not transferred them into the investment, and your investment’s current value.
Is there any maximum to the compensation payable?
FSCS has a maximum compensation of £85,000 per claim. The FOS has a maximum award of £350,000, while the TPO has no maximum.
Can I make more than one claim?
Yes, you may be entitled to make two claims: one against your Financial Adviser, and the other against the SIPP provider, but only to a combined maximum amount.
What is the process for seeking compensation?
There are three basic steps:
- The first step is assessing your claim. You provide HT Legal with the documentation you have. Based on this and the questionnaire we will complete with you and any information we obtain on your behalf from third parties, HT Legal will assess whether you have a claim and its potential extent.
- The second step is preparing your claim. HT Legal drafts the claim, with the legal arguments supporting it and attaches the relevant evidence.
- The third step is submission. Where the Financial Adviser and/or SIPP provider is still in existence, HT Legal submits the complaint to them and if they do not offer proper compensation, we forward the claim to the relevant statutory bodies. If the Financial Adviser and/or SIPP provider no longer exists, HT Legal submits the claim to the FSCS.
How quickly will I receive compensation?
FSCS deals with claims are currently taking up to 12 months. Where the claim must first go to the Financial Adviser and/or SIPP provider, then to the relevant statutory body, the whole process is likely to take substantially longer.
Will I receive the compensation personally, or will it be paid into my Pension?
Normally the FSCS will pay you personally. FOS will normally instruct the company to pay you personally if the monies are unable to be paid directly into your Pension.
What about using the SIPP, SSAS provider and the Financial Adviser through the normal courts?
HT Legal does not advise on legal proceedings through the normal courts. If you are contemplating litigation you should bear in mind three points:
- You may have to pay your own lawyer substantial fees and even if you win, the court is unlikely to allow you to reclaim your fees in full from your opponents.
- If you lose, you may have to pay some or all of your opponent’s costs.
- Parliament has set up FSCS, FOS ad the Pensions Ombudsman to enable people to receive compensation without costly legal proceedings.
Why choose HT Legal?
HT Legal has expertise in all the relevant areas of management and the preparation of cases. In addition, the team at HT Legal have a wealth of experience of the SIPP industry, of non-standard investments and of how Financial Advisers have operated historically.
Do I have to provide HT Legal with documents?
Yes. The HT Legal representative will also guide you as to which documents you must provide. These are documents in your possession relating to your SIPP operator, your Financial Adviser (if applicable), the investments you acquired, plus any documents connected with any lawyer or other claims company.
Do I need a claims company in order to see compensation?
No, you are free to seek compensation without expert help. Indeed the statutory bodies – the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) deal with many cases where the victim does not have expert help. However, if the issues in your case are relatively complex and the evidence is not always readily available, this is where HT Legal’s expertise can help.
Should I keep the original documents?
Yes, you should always keep originals of documents you supply to HT Legal just in case you need them again in the future. You should also read carefully and retain all documents that HT Legal supplies.
Will I have to do anything?
You will mainly be passive in the claim process. However, when HT Legal has drafted your claim, you will need to read it, suggesting any amendments. Additionally, if your Financial Adviser or SIPP operator makes an offer to settle your claim, HT Legal will ask you whether you wish to accept that offer.
How will I know how things are going?
HT Legal will keep you regularly informed of the progress of your claim.
If I am not satisfied with HT Legal can I withdraw from my contract?
Yes, you are free to withdraw at any time, subject to paying HT Legal for any work done at the time of cancellation. Please see contract for details.