OpinionMay 15 2013

Resolve long-stop

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There is an Act of Limitation, restricting the time that Joe Public can bring a case against a firm or individual he believes has committed a civil or criminal wrong against him.

The exceptions to this, which no civilised person would object to, are murder and rape – which has now been extended to all sexual offences. There cannot be a time limit on murder or the brutal assault on people under the age of maturity.

However, the reasoning with the decision to impose a virtual lifetime block on financial advisers is based on a superficially reasonable, but fundamentally flawed reasoning: that pensions and insurance are long-term commitments and the client may not realise that something was wrong with the products until he or she goes to act on the them.

Of course, the same logic seems not to apply to endowments and some other investment and protection products. More particularly, it does not seem to apply to any other group of professionals, such as doctors, for example.

We have seen all kinds of public outcries about cosmetic surgery going wrong and wonky advice given by solicitors, whose victims are unable to take legal action against them on the ground that the statute of limitations has expired.

We have seen some banks (and this is not bank bashing) provide the most awful advice and sale of products, and have used their deep pockets to frustrate the suffering client.

Financial advisers are like any other occupational group, when they reach retirement they want to walk away and rest; this is not the same as abandoning their clients, in the majority of cases they hand their clients over to firms with which they have good quality synergies.

It is a case of the regulator imposing a rule which is intended to protect the consumer, but in the process is imposing a life sentence on financial advisers. There must be a better way of resolving this matter.

However, if it falls to Financial Adviser, we are prepared to campaign for this clear wrong to be put right.