Pensions  

Ucis investors’ case thrown out by judge

Ucis investors’ case thrown out by judge

A group of claimants have lost their chance to bring a case against a trustee for allegedly recommending inappropriate investments. 

In a High Court judgment, published yesterday (October 13), judge Jonathan Russen ruled the group of more than 60 investors should have brought their case against Castle Trust & Management Service in Gibraltar rather than the UK.

Castle is a company registered in Gibraltar which operates as a professional trustee. 

It is the trustee of two Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (Qrops) established in Gibraltar: the Equus Scheme and the Metro Scheme.

According to the judgment, each of the claimants joined either one or both Qrops as members and transferred their existing UK pensions into these schemes.

There are two types of claimants, those who were advised in respect of a handful of unregulated collective schemes (Ucis Claimants) and those known as "Elysian claimants" who were advised in respect of a single investment of that name. 

Some claimants fell into both categories. 

The barrister acting on behalf on the claimants, Gerard McMeel, instructed by High Street Solicitors, said the Qrops were an "inappropriate pension vehicle for UK-domiciled investors" and that in many cases the investors' accounts were now in debit.

But judge Russen said the case could not be brought in the English courts and should have instead been brought in Gibraltar as the UK did not have the right jurisdiction.

The court said the deed and rules investors signed called for disputes to be settled in the Gibraltar court.

He said there was no dispute that the domicile of Castle was Gibraltar and the company was incorporated there. 

What the judge had to consider was whether the place of domicile meant the English court had no jurisdiction because the proceedings ought to have been brought in Gibraltar or whether there was an exception to this rule.

Russen stated: “It is therefore clear in my judgment that any claim against Castle based upon non-performance of services would have to be based upon the deeds and the rules incorporated by them. 

“Any such claim would fall within Article 5.6 which would lead to the same court – the Gibraltar court – having jurisdiction as it would under the general rule of Article 2.”

He found the claimants had not “established a good arguable case” that the UK court had jurisdiction over their claims against Castle and thus the case was thrown out.

amy.austin@ft.com

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