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Berkeley Burke Fos hearing scheduled for October

Berkeley Burke Fos hearing scheduled for October

A judicial review hearing in a Sipp provider's long standing battle against the Financial Ombudsman Service (Fos) is due to be heard in October.

Berkeley Burke is fighting a decision from 2014, in which the ombudsman ruled the Sipp provider had to compensate a client after it failed to carry out adviser-style due diligence on his investment.

The firm had already taken legal action following the original ombudsman decision of 2014. 

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Berkeley Burke maintained it had not given any advice to Wayne Charlton and said it intended to seek judicial review of the ombudsman's decision.

It was then agreed that Mr Charlton's complaint would be reconsidered by another ombudsman without the need for a formal court order quashing the decision.

A new ombudsman, Colin Brown, found in favour of Mr Charlton in February 2017 and the decision was accepted.

Berkeley Burke then attempted to appeal the ruling via an arbitration appeal process in 2017.

This was blocked by a High Court judge leaving the provider with no choice but to seek another judicial review.

The Administrative Court confirmed to FTAdviser that a three-day hearing is scheduled to begin in London on 10 October.

The issue stems from Mr Charlton bringing a complaint to the ombudsman in respect of the loss of his personal pension which he had invested in a Sipp administered by Berkeley Burke in 2011.

The investments in the Sipp included an interest in Sustainable AgroEnergy PLC, a company which purported to extract biofuel from trees grown in Cambodia.

In 2012 Sustainable AgroEnergy PLC entered receivership following intervention by the Serious Fraud Office as part of a criminal investigation.

Berkeley Burke is facing a separate claim from a group of about 77 investors after Judge Russen ruled in February he would allow the group action to be brought in relation to potential mis-selling of high risk investments in Sipps.

The investors allege the pensions were sold through nine separate introducers, and were invested into single-asset high risk investments ranging from forestry in Australia, residential property in Arkansas and a holiday apartment in Grenada.

Berkeley Burke denied all allegations at the hearing held on 15 November 2017.

carmen.reichman@ft.com